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City hears project updates

Dickinson is expanding and growing, but the projects and developments needed to accommodate the people moving into the city are beginning to overpower city staff.

Dickinson City officials got caught up on several projects and facilities at Monday's regular City Commission meeting at City Hall.

"It's just an overwhelming load for the engineering department right now," City Engineer Bill Watson said.

Dickinson's growth could be stunted if the city doesn't speed up the building permit process, Commissioner Gene Jackson said.

"I'm not saying that anything is being done wrong, but I think we've got to really work hard to try do something different," Jackson said. "I know everybody is working hard, but I really think it's come to a point that it's really hurting development in our community."

But speeding up the process could leave gaps, creating problems later on, Commission President Dennis Johnson said.

Watson and his staff are working on creative ways to speed up the process without missing any design flaws on proposed buildings, including outsourcing review of plan.

"Be assured that we're investigating every possible avenue in order to facilitate getting these developments through," Watson said.

Dakota Prairie Refinery

Dickinson will be providing the Dakota Prairie Refinery with water from the water reclamation facility, City Administrator Shawn Kessel said. It will also be removing water from the site and treating it at the plant.

"Essentially we will be creating a large circle of pipes between the refinery and the city of Dickinson," Kessel said.

Downtown Dickinson

The 12-member steering committee for the downtown Dickinson association was elected Monday morning. The members are Liz Bollinger of The Brew, Cami Havelka of Lillian's Dickinson, Jayme Heick of Moe Moe's Garden, Kevin Holten of The Dickinson Press, Oddfellow's Lodge and Sneak Pique Productions, Christa Kiedrowski of American Bank Center, Bernie Marsh of Bernie's Esquire Club, Josh Nichols of Dickinson State University, Oddfellow's Lodge and Sneak Pique Productions, Mike Riesigner of Brickhouse Grill, Kristi Schwartz of Allstate, Laurie Strommen of Quality Quick Print, Cooper Whitman of the Dickinson Area Chamber of Commerce and Laurie Willett of Roers West.

Two members of this group will also sit on a design committee featuring city staff, city commissioners and members of Dickinson Design Group, the firm in charge of downtown revitalization, Kessel said.

DUI ordinance

An ordinance was introduced to update the city's DUI policy to reflect that of that state, allowing local authorities to prosecute first and second offenses through municipal court, City Attorney Matt Kolling said.

As of Thursday the fines, which can be paid to the city with the passage of this ordinance, are increased and it is a separate offense if a driver refuses a blood or breath test, Kolling said. It also increases jail time.

The commission unanimously approved first reading of the ordinance.

Landscaping on Highway 22

Six miles of Highway 22 will be getting some brightening with trees and shrubs from Interstate 94 to the Dunn County Line, said A. J. Wallevand, landscape architect with Fargo-based Ulteig Engineers.

"We are going to be bringing it a variety of trees in order to enhance the corridor," Wallevand said. "Many of the plant materials that we have are shorter, smaller ornamentals."

Municipal Court

Second quarter municipal court prosecutions have increased, raising fines collected by 131 percent over the second quarter of 2011, said Bekki Grant, city prosecutor through Ebeltoft Sickler.

The city began contracting with the law firm at the beginning of 2012, and in the second quarter of that year saw an 89 percent increase in fines collected in the second quarter over the previous year.

"There was an incredible spike in criminal activity since 2011 -- between the years of 2011 and 2012," Grant said. "Also, we have charged a significant number of crimes on our own accord."

The change of prosecutors and an increase in the number of police officers can also be attributed to the increase in fine collection.

Public safety center

The commission unanimously approved the architectural contract with Schutz-Foss for the public safety center to be built in northwest Dickinson to house the Dickinson Police Department and the Dickinson Fire Department.

The firm will be compensated based on a percentage of the cost of the building, Kolling said.

Public works building

The public works building and animal shelter are ahead of schedule, said Jan Prchal, architect from Hulsing and Associates.

"The contractor has a very aggressive schedule," Prchal said. "They might be further behind than they want to be, but as far as the project and what we have in the contract, they are ahead of schedule."

Water reclamation facility

Construction on the water reclamation facility in southeast Dickinson is on schedule said Karla Olson, engineer with Apex Engineering Group of Bismarck and Fargo.

"I think we're going to be quite pleased with it, it's not only important to our citizens, but as we heard from Mr. Kessel earlier, it's important to the refinery and it's important to the citizens of South Heart too," Johnson said.

Katherine Grandstrand
I graduated from Bemidji State University in 2007 with a bachelor's degree in mass communcations, from Columbia College Chicago in 2009 with a master's degree in journalism.  
(701) 456-1206