Vision for downtown's future heads before Grand Forks leaders
It's half a wish list and half a to-do list, but it charts a path forward for Grand Forks' entire downtown neighborhood. A much-awaited report from the mayor's downtown vibrancy group heads before the Grand Forks Committee of the Whole on Monday ...
It's half a wish list and half a to-do list, but it charts a path forward for Grand Forks' entire downtown neighborhood.
A much-awaited report from the mayor's downtown vibrancy group heads before the Grand Forks Committee of the Whole on Monday evening, where group leaders will have the chance to present the vision they've built for the downtown area over the past year and a half. City leaders aren't expected to take any action beside listening to the report, but its delivery is the first step in a process that could bring big changes to the city.
The report runs about 30 pages and is stuffed with recommendations for the downtown area's future, from jazzing up Town Square to making north Third and Fourth streets into two-way roads. It's premised upon the belief that what's good for downtown is good for the community, marshaling arguments that building downtown helps attract workers and grows the community efficiently.
"The downtown experience reflects our personality and vitality for residents, visitors and business," the report states. "This makes downtown a key part of any community's economic future and talent development equation."
Much of the report works in broad themes, with points such as "create bold public spaces" or "animate street life downtown." There's an endorsement for building mixed-use buildings with retail on the first floor-an echo of city backing for development at Arbor Park, 15 S. Fourth St., which has seen debate over a potential $7-million-plus condominium building with retail space on the first floor.
But under some of those larger ideas are some specific recommendations that hint at what the downtown area might look like in coming years. Some of the most notable ones include bringing a hotel downtown; building a roundabout at South Fifth Street and Belmont Road; founding a Grand Forks bike share downtown and at UND; and building a pedestrian bridge between downtown Grand Forks and East Grand Forks.
The report wraps up with an "action plan" that lays out short-, mid- and long-term work to help boost the downtown area. Recommended action ranges from boosting "open streets events" to building streetscape improvements to committing to a "comprehensive downtown planning process."
The downtown group is one of multiple committees that have been working for between one and a half and two years to study the community and find ways to improve it. The arts and events committee recently returned their own report to the City Council in September.
The meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in Council Chambers at Grand Forks City Hall, 255 N. Fourth St.
The committee also will consider preliminary approval for the disbursement of $127,000 in arts funding, with funds potentially going to groups such as the Empire Arts Center ($15,781), the North Dakota Ballet Company ($10,562) and the North Dakota Museum of Art ($15,671).
Final City Council approval is required for the funds to be disbursed, which would happen in January.