NDSU officials: Poor planninng may lead to dire consequences for DickinsonIn the wake of an oil boom in western North Dakota, Dickinson needs to find a balance to provide housing for temporary, transient, and long-term residents or risk dire consequences, North Dakota State University researchers said at a Dickinson City Commission meeting Monday at City Hall.
In the wake of an oil boom in western North Dakota, Dickinson needs to find a balance to provide housing for temporary, transient, and long-term residents or risk dire consequences, North Dakota State University researchers said at a Dickinson City Commission meeting Monday at City Hall.
“While there has already been substantial growth, barring some unforeseen change — some macro-economic meltdown, some environmental change, something very dramatic that is outside the control of anyone — additional employment growth is very likely in the next five to 10 years,” said Nancy Hodur, NDSU assistant research professor and researcher for the project.
The city commissioned NDSU to project what populations it could see in order to plan for growth, Mayor Dennis Johnson said.
Growth all depends on petroleum production, Hodur said.
She could not state specific numbers of growth or how long it would last. After oil wells are in place, a sizable number of employees, mostly short-term, will leave the area.
The city needs to study the characteristics of workers coming to the area to decide how much permanent and temporary housing to build, Hodur said.
If it doesn’t build enough, rent will go up. If it builds too much, Dickinson will see high vacancy rates and property values could decline.
“If you think people get mad that their property values are going up each year, wait until you get to the flip side and they are going down because we overbuilt,” Commissioner Klayton Oltmanns said. “Then you will have concern.”
It will take more than a couple of months to catch up to the housing demand, Hodur said.
Dickinson should not take on the housing effort by itself, the research professor said. The oil boom is regional and other cities will build housing. It is important for Dickinson to watch what other communities do and plan accordingly.
In other news, design plans for the $35 million wastewater plant in Dickinson are complete and should be ready to bid out next week, said Karla Olson of Apex Engineering Group in Bismarck.
The facility will be built 2½ miles southeast of Dickinson. An increase in population has pushed the current plant to its limits, prompting the city to build on to accommodate up to 62,000 people.
Companies across the country, including ones in Colorado and Florida, have shown interest in the project, Olson said.
The project is set to be finished September 2014. City staff expects approximately 30,000 people to live in Dickinson by then.
Commissioners also unanimously approved the city to purchase six FEMA units to accommodate employees coming to the area.
The trailers were used during the Minot flood, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said. Each has two bedrooms.
The units would cost about $5,500 each, but they would accumulate $2,000 after transportation and additional costs, Kessel said. The city will draft an agreement to put the units in North Park Homes & RV’s in July.
The city administrator added lots in North Park would cost $500, bringing total charges up to $800 a month. Employees could stay in the trailers for six months, he added.
Dickinson has troubles attracting and retaining potential employees to the area due to a lack of housing.
It owns two houses for city workers. The city has 13 full-time positions and 23 seasonal positions to fill. Applicants have turned down job offers because they can’t find housing, Kessel said.
“I don’t think we are going to have any problem finding employees that want to fill those trailers,” Commissioner Carson Steiner said.
The option is the lowest cost alternative Kessel could find until they build additional units. The city also plans to create a five-year staffing plan to anticipate needs for hiring employees.