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Officials wonder: Can Medora grow?

Plans for major construction, including nearly 200 guest rooms, is another reason to determine whether Medora's infrastructure can handle growth, Mayor Doug Ellison said.

The Theodore Roosevelt Medora Foundation's five-year plan includes adding 40 rooms to the Badlands Motel, 150 guest rooms near the Bunkhouse and constructing a six- to eight-unit apartment building for employees.

However, Ellison said these, like other proposals, will be on hold until a study shows whether the city's lagoon, wastewater system and other infrastructure can handle growth.

He expects the study to be completed by the end of the summer.

"If our current system is at capacity, then we look at either expanding the present system or putting a wastewater treatment plant out of town," Ellison said.

Stephanie Tinjum, a spokesperson for TRMF, said plans for construction are preliminary.

"We really aren't at a point to being able to release any information about actual start dates for these projects," she said Wednesday. "Really the only main project that we know will be started with summer is the improvements and work on the road and parking lot for the (Burning Hills) amphitheater."

In the meantime, a privately-owned hotel and a local family are also planning construction projects.

Ted Tescher and his family want to construct 23 homes south of the railroad tracks.

"We would like to have a shovel in the ground definitely this summer," he said. "The homes are needed right now ... and here's a place for it."

The Tescher family has been trying to come to an agreement with city officials on their subdivision for 14 years, and Tescher said it will be disappointing if it is put on hold again.

"These proposed projects would just have to wait until our system could handle it," Ellison said. "If it comes to that, there's just no other choice. We would have to upgrade our system and we couldn't allow anything added to our system that would exceed capacity."

Owners of the AmericInn Motel and Suits in Medora also want to add more than 20 rooms.

"We kind of put their application on hold pending the completion of this feasibility study just to know what we're dealing with, whether we can accept the additional water usage or just what our system is capable of doing," Ellison said. "They did get permission from zoning to proceed with partial construction, which would not entail water usage. As far as I know they had planned on starting that."

If the study shows infrastructure can't handle the growth, city officials will then need to figure out how to fund improvements, he said.

"We would try to access grant monies to do this expansion," Ellison said. "It's a lot of money. We don't have an exact amount yet, but for a small town, it would be quite an investment ... our intent is to proceed as quickly as we can."

Despite delays, officials want Medora to grow, he said.