University Avenue Corridor meeting identifies community building, safety as priorities

It was the first such community meeting for the project since a group of UND graduate students began meeting individually with corridor residents in early March.

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Attendees of a community meeting for the University Avenue Corridor project discuss their priorities at a meeting at the Salvation Army location on Tuesday, May 10.
Adam Kurtz / Grand Forks Herald

GRAND FORKS — Attendees of a community meeting held Tuesday, May 10, identified common themes, including safety and building a sense of community, as priorities in moving the University Avenue Corridor project ahead.

It was the first such community meeting for the project since a group of UND graduate students began meeting individually with corridor residents in early March. Those meetings were held to discuss how residents’ priorities for the project align with those highlighted in a 2021 survey funded by the Knight Foundation, in conjunction with the Community Foundation of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Region, and with JLG Architects.

Group organizers spoke about the need for residents to form an organization to deal with the city in pursuing their ideas, though forming such a group wasn’t discussed in-depth at the meeting.

“Ideally, there's a neighborhood organization or group that I can come back to and work with, in driving some of those projects forward,” said Andrew Conlon, senior community development planner with the city of Grand Forks. “... If we can build some of that capacity to drive these initiatives forward, I think we all stand a much better chance of success and actually seeing (residents’ ideas) realized."

But the formation of such an organization, or a series of organizations, may prove to be a challenge, considering the several neighborhoods along the corridor. Toward the beginning of the evening meeting Connie Osowski, who lives near the now-demolished West Elementary School, asked for a clarification of the corridor’s boundaries.


“When I think about a corridor I think of a tunnel, and I'm kind of on the outskirts of the tunnel,” she said.

Conlon said the term “corridor” was initially used to describe the area along University Avenue and neighborhoods a few blocks to the north and south of the thoroughfare. He said conversations with residents led by the UND graduate students have expanded that area, and the term is not meant to exclude outlying neighborhoods along University Avenue.

“It's meant to be whatever you feel it is, really,” he said.

After discussion in small groups and a vote — taken by placing stickers next to attendees’ ideas, which were written out on sheets of paper — issues of safety, building a community and possibly holding block parties were given priority. Further discussion resulted in the selection of community building as a topic to be discussed at a later meeting, and then possibly presented to the city for potential action.

Some residents expressed concern that rental properties in the area made it difficult to build community relations, and that some landlords live out of state. They also raised such concerns as loud parties in rental units and properties that have fallen into disrepair.

Lighting was also a common thread of discussion, as were speed limits and traffic concerns. One attendee mentioned that the corridor on campus was illuminated fairly well, but when walking east from there it becomes dark and “scary” at times.

Another attendee mentioned speed limits varied between campus, a portion of University Avenue and in downtown Grand Forks, a potential confusing situation for drivers. Other traffic concerns were unmarked intersections or intersections where drivers tend to disregard traffic signs. Osowski wondered about the possibility of getting a flashing light attached to a yield sign in her neighborhood.

Crumbling sidewalks, which some called a hazard, were also a concern as well as who would pay for their repair.


The meeting was held in the Salvation Army building on University Avenue Organizers will poll attendees as to a suitable date for a subsequent meeting. People who were not able to attend Tuesday’s meeting but are interested in getting involved can contact organizers by email at

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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