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City, NDDOT work to address concerns

Anyone caught for an extended period of time at the railroad crossing along State Avenue knows the planned overpass there will be a welcome addition for west Dickinson drivers who travel north or south.

However, several businesses and residents at or near the intersection of State Avenue and Villard Street expect to have their access to State Avenue cut off as the road rises above the railroad.

While the city does not have final say over which plan is implemented by the North Dakota Department of Transportation, it is allowed to make recommendations. The City Commission discussed which options would be most viable to allow affected businesses access to the rest of the city at its regular meeting at City Hall on Monday evening.

“The final, ultimate decision is still up to the DOT, but it would like the city to weigh in on it,” City Engineer Craig Kubas said.

The Department of Transportation and the city held an invitation-only meeting to allow businesses and residents affected by the overpass a chance to voice their opinions of options proposed to grant them alternative access to main thoroughfares.

“It’s urgent in the fact that either one of these options would require right of way from public entities and from private entities,” Kubas said. “It’s not urgent in the fact that they’re working on 90 percent of the design that’s completely removed from either one of these options, but right of way can take a lot of time.”

There were multiple options proposed, but the businesses dwindled it down to two.

One proposal would create a private drive to allow access to affected businesses and the other would create a public street, Kubas said.

“Option 5 (the option that creates the public street west of State Avenue and connects with Villard Street), from my perspective and the tenant that I have, is workable,” said Leon Mallberg, who owns the UPS building located at State Avenue. “It’s not very satisfactory to the residences that are going to have to apparently accommodate a wider street than what they have because of the larger trucks that will be coming in and out of there.”

The commission will bring the issue to a January meeting.

“I know we’re not the final decision-maker here, but I think it would just be the prudent thing to do to put it as a timetable and advertise it for public comment,” Commission President Dennis Johnson said.

Kessel earns raise, new contract

The Dickinson City Commission has given City Administrator Shawn Kessel a glowing review.

In seven review categories, all commissioners rated Kessel as “exceeds expectations” or “meets expectations.” The review earned Kessel a $10,000 raise, to $126,000 per year, or an 8.6 percent increase.

“I thought it was a very positive performance review, on par with the previous three years’ review,” Johnson said. “It looks to me like it’s perhaps the strongest review you’ve received from a commission here.”

Kessel’s raise was computed by taking into account what other city administrators are paid throughout the state, as well as the performance review written by the commission, Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said.

The end of the year ends Kessel’s three-year employment contract and the commission unanimously offered Kessel a three-year extension beginning Jan. 1.

“I certainly have to give a great deal of the praise and reflect that to the team,” Kessel said. “They make me look better than I probably am. And I also want to say that the city commission — I’ve worked for a couple different commissions and you guys make my job a whole lot easier.”

City advances liquor license change

The commission unanimously approved the first reading of the revised liquor license ordinance, which allows the commission to approve extensions beyond 24 for between the time a business purchases a liquor license within Dickinson city limits to the time it must make its first sale.

The ordinance allows for unlimited extensions, pending commission approval for each proposed time period.