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TODD FELAND

In 2013 and for two years after that, Northern Plains was a top-of-mind project for developers in Grand Forks.
To recap: Asian company Fufeng Group has selected Grand Forks as the location for what is being called a “wet corn milling” facility that could consume as much as 25 million bushels of corn when it reaches peak capacity. The company’s new property is expected to take up a 370-acre site on the north edge of Grand Forks.
The preliminary, dubbed Option Ponderosa, is an offshoot of previous plan Option Pine. The only alteration between the two plans is an enlargement of Ward 3 by extending its perimeter to include the area between Division Ave. and Minnesota Ave. The main effect of this is that it keeps Ward 3 council member Bret Weber in his current ward.
Last week, the White House Office of Management and Budget declared the threshold for a “metropolitan statistical area” will remain at a population of 50,000, rather than increasing it to 100,000. Doing so means Grand Forks and many similarly sized cities get to keep their status as a metropolitan statistical area and thus continue to qualify for certain federal funding.

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The BMX track was the most shovel-ready project amongst other ideas, including a proposed children’s museum, indoor athletic facility and redevelopment of Columbia Mall, brought forth by city leaders to help grow Grand Forks into a destination for visitors, and add quality of life improvements for residents. Track volunteers are hoping it will be a draw, especially if they host a national event.
The new track is just part of the city’s big development plans for the area. City Hall is in the early drafting phases of a “master plan” that will sketch out uses for the BMX park and surrounding land, Feland said. And city documents show leaders are thinking big — a children’s museum and athletic facilities and more.
Here’s what we know: The OMB is reviewing an update to the definition of a “metropolitan statistical area,” the term that helps the government organize and classify communities. At present, one requirement is that a city’s "urban area" has a population of at least 50,000. But the rule change could double that requirement to 100,000.
City leaders have started to dive into a newly released study that gives the city recommendations to improve the University Avenue Corridor, including improving safety for pedestrians and bicyclists, finding new ways to boost activity and establishing a residential improvement district.
It's better-than-expected news for the city during the coronavirus pandemic. City leaders see it as a vote of confidence.
EDITOR'S NOTE: The following appeared in a special section titled "Greater Grand Forks Community," which published in the Aug. 29 edition of the Grand Forks Herald.

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Students will be welcomed back "with open arms," Chamber of Commerce president says.
City Administrator Todd Feland has heard rumors of house parties and gatherings of more than 10 people in Grand Forks. He also said the city is fielding calls from residents concerned about neighbors who are not adhering to social-distancing standards.
Grand Forks’ city administrator hopes to head back to work next week after a Thanksgiving weekend injury.

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