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GF CITY HALL: Council, mayor to study city's committee structure

Grand Forks City Council President Hal Gershman is echoing Mayor Mike Brown's suggestion that the council review its committee structure. Gershman requested Monday night that the council discuss whether the Committee of the Whole is still useful ...

Grand Forks City Council President Hal Gershman is echoing Mayor Mike Brown's suggestion that the council review its committee structure.

Gershman requested Monday night that the council discuss whether the Committee of the Whole is still useful at the next Committee of the Whole meeting March 8.

Shortly after the 2000 city election, when the mayor and many of the current council members came into power, they did away with the old structure of standing committees in which every item for discussion went into a committee of a few council members.

The fear then was the committee structures were political fiefdoms for committee chairpersons.

Instead, all items went before all council members meeting as a Committee of the Whole.

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Committees are a deliberative step before the items get to the formal City Council where they're voted upon.

In 2002, council members decided to add so-called "standby" committees that would meet irregularly to address special issues that the Committee of the Whole didn't have time to delve into. Items from the standby committees would go to the Committee of the Whole before going to the council, which is one extra step than in the past.

Gershman observed that those standby committees now act a lot like the old standing committees. Today's Service/Safety Standby Committee has nine items on it, he said.

The standby committees also meet fairly regularly, about once every other week.

Alerus Center

Council members discuss changes to the law governing the structure of the commission that runs the city-owned Alerus Center on March 8.

There are seven commissioners, four from the general public and three restricted by law to a council member, a UND representative and a representative of the hospitality industry. The hospitality rep resigned years ago and commissioners have asked for an ordinance change for almost as long.

The changes on Monday would incorporate suggestions from the Alerus Center task force, formed to reform the events center. This would give the general public six commissioners and the council one. UND's rep would be a nonvoting member. There would be no hospitality industry representative. Commissioners would be limited to two three-year terms.

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Civic Auditorium

Council members and Brown, meeting as the Jobs Development Authority, formally agreed Monday night to give the land at the long-vacant Civic Auditorium and the parking lot across the street to private developers.

One, a team led by Grand Forks-based Dakota Commercial and Development, would build a 50-unit apartment complex at the Civic site and the other, St. Paul-based MetroPlains, would build a 40-unit complex on the parking lot.

The council had earlier agreed to let the deals go forward.

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