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City leaders consider wetlands park near Hills Shopping Center: Developer pitches idea to preserve wildlife

Press Photo by Katherine Grandstrand Ron Raddon of Five Diamond Development, left, explains his plans for a wetlands park to Peter Wax, environmental scientist at the Division of Water Quality at the North Dakota Department of Health, center, and Matthew Mikulecky, regulatory project manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, at the south end of what will be the Dickinson Hills Shopping center on site in west Dickinson on Tuesday.

Dickinson is growing and new developments are taking over old farm and pasture land, leaving less space for wildlife.

So when a large patch of the Dickinson Hills Shopping Center was deemed to be wetlands that need to be preserved, developer Ron Raddon of Five Diamonds Development decided to take the preservation effort to the next level, creating a wetlands park.

The park would leave two ponds with shallow or standing water where native wetland plants and animals can thrive. A trail is planned for the perimeter with a boardwalk crossing over one of the ponds for closer observation.

“If we could build a park at the end of the development that would be a wetlands park — something that could be utilized, something that could be an educational process for kids from grade school on up,” Raddon told the Dickinson City Commission at its last meeting. Similar parks near his house in Salt Lake City are constantly utilized by local schools, he added.

Raddon met with officials from the city of Dickinson, the North Dakota Department of Health, North Dakota Game and Fish, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Highlands Engineering on Tuesday at the site. He met with the groups again at Highlands in a conference room to further discuss his plans for the wetlands at the south end of Dickinson Hills, located south of Interstate 94 along 30th Avenue West.

In order to get the buildings done before the construction season ends, earth needs to move on the project in April, meaning approval is needed as soon as possible.

“You live out here, you know the window we have,” Raddon said. “When April comes around, if we’re not moving dirt, there’s no way they’re going to get built out there by October.”

Raddon has also worked with Chip Poland, chairman of the Department of Agriculture and Technical Studies at Dickinson State University.

“I was hoping I could get the college to help me plant this,” Raddon said.

The plan is to retain natural grasses in the area.

The holding ponds are expected to be at their wettest in the spring following snow melt, and at times of heavy rain.

To keep the water as clean as possible, a separator is being installed to clean any runoff entering the ponds.

“Once it goes into that pond and overflows into that pond, our water’s clean,” Raddon said, pointing to the two holding ponds planned at the park. “What comes downstream from all the rest of the developments, I can’t control.”

The park is in the concept design phase, but Raddon would like to move forward with engineering as soon as possible.

“This can be changed any way you want,” Raddon said to the officials gathered. “I can work with you guys — I think we’re going to have plenty of material.”

City staff support the idea, as does the Army Corps, and Game and Fish, provided all studies are completed and the park is done well.

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.  
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