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Letter: Urban sprawl is a mistake we can't afford

To the editor,

There has been a refreshing shift in Bismarck as key leaders move away from dogma toward an emphasis on accurate data and nonpartisan collaboration. I appreciate Gov. Doug Burgum's commitment to research-based decision-making.

Addressing the problem of urban sprawl at Bismarck's Livability Summit, he stated firmly, "I don't want to have ideological discussions. Bring your data ... we want a data-driven decision on how we build better, smarter cities."

I'm grateful for our governor and Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary, who remain committed to using data and the latest technological innovations to guide their decision-making. This is vitally important for the future.

Gov. Burgum's mantra, "vibrant downtowns create smart, healthy cities" is the right vision we need to compete for talented young people in the 21st century. This young workforce desires and expects more from their city, including high livability and walkability scores and a vibrant downtown.

The economics are solid and crystal clear. A city's downtown is its cash cow, generating far more revenue per square foot than it costs to maintain—the opposite of urban sprawl. Research shows sprawling neighborhoods usually do not generate enough revenue to pay for all the city services they need. And special assessments in new neighborhoods cover only about 50 percent of their costs; the rest of that bill is paid by all city taxpayers.

Our bright younger generations know the Bismarck mayor and governor are right - our city centers are crucial and urban sprawl is an expensive mistake we can't afford to keep making.

Gov. Burgum's Main Street Initiative intends to create a thriving future for North Dakota. As he says, "one of the ways we compete is by building communities that people want to live in. If we do that well, we're going to have a 21st century workforce."

Jim Kambeitz