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Town Square in Grand Forks soon to receive enhancements to make the space usable year-round

Some of the enhancements include giant cornhole sets, musical instruments, firepits, outdoor workout equipment, a new mural and more lighting

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The Grand Forks Downtown Development Association would like to see improvements to the Town Square that would make it more user-friendly on a year-round basis.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS – Downtown’s Town Square will soon receive several enhancements to make the space usable year-round by everybody.

The enhancements come as the Downtown Development Association recently was selected as a recipient of a $100,000 Lowe’s Hometown grant . The DDA is North Dakota's only recipient of the award.

Blue Weber, president/CEO of the DDA, and Jill Proctor, COO of the DDA, said they have had conversations with the city and visionary partners since December to figure out how to make Town Square a friendly and more welcoming space along with making the space usable beyond the events currently held there.

“We like to say everybody loves it 10% of the time when there’s farmer's markets and concerts and a rink,” Proctor said. “And then it’s the other 90% of the time where we see activity that doesn’t really promote a safe and welcoming neighborhood.”

Weber echoed that the plans for enhancing Town Square are to create a hangout space that people would want to use on a daily basis.


“I think making it a place where it’s not just the acts that are going on there right now, but every single day it’s something that people want to be a part of,” Weber said. “And not a program concert or street fair or farmers market, but a place where people want to go down and be able to take part in it being a cool place.”

Giant cornhole sets, musical instruments, fire pits, outdoor workout equipment and a new mural are just some of the enhancements Town Square will receive. Midco will be providing free Wi-Fi for the space starting in the spring to create a more versatile place where people can work.

Some other maintenance-related enhancements include updates to electrical and lighting. Old lighting will be replaced with LED lights, old light posts will be upgraded and more lights will be added to ensure the space is lit 24-7, something Proctor said will be helpful for the police department.

Security features, including security cameras, have also been installed to aid the police in any crimes that go on in the area.

Proctor and Weber said they not only want to ensure that the enhancements being made to Town Square will mean that the space is being used by all age groups, but also to make the space more accessible for everyone.

“We want it to feel very inclusive,” Proctor said. “So we’re bringing in outdoor music instruments that will make sure that somebody with any level of wheelchair can get right up to it and play just like anyone else can.”

Proctor said the goal is to have the improvements done by Sept. 28, which is when the DDA is holding a UND homecoming pep rally in Town Square. Though Proctor said the DDA is also prepared for any shipping delays or supply chain issues that may put a hold on some of the items.

Grand Forks resident Jaime Verzosa started the event with the vision of getting the community together to give back

Visions to enhance Town Square date back to 2019 when the Downtown Action Plan was completed to address what the structure of downtown would look like 10-15 years in the future including revisioning what Town Square and other pocket parks would look like. Weber said while the pandemic caused those plans to slow down, a lot of those ideas still exist.


The current enhancements are made possible not only with the Lowe’s Hometown grant, but also from Visit Greater Grand Forks, which is investing in the outdoor musical instruments, and from the Myra Foundation, which has provided a grant for the fire pits. Weber said the DDA is working with Thermal Air to put the fire pits together along with CoPilot Designs to put together other pieces.

“It really is starting to feel like this collaborative effort to make this space really incredible for the city,” Proctor said.

The city of Grand Forks is also among the list of partners as both Proctor and Weber said they are thankful the city has been supportive of the revitalization of the space.

“It all comes down to the quality of life of your community,” Proctor said. “We feel as an organization that we are tasked with the responsibility of being a contributor to improving the quality of life and luckily for the city of Grand Forks, the city council and the people that work within the city also understand the importance of that.”

Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 719-235-8640 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

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