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City pursuing events center feasibility study

Roughly $3 million in funds intended to bring the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library to Dickinson have been reallocated for city projects, including a feasibility study for a new events center. (Brandon L. Summers / The Dickinson Press)

Funds set aside for a Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Dickinson will now go toward city improvement projects.

In May, the library foundation's board decided to locate both the library and presidential museum in Medora, despite receiving pledges from Dickinson.

The $3 million that had been budgeted for the project as a local match will now be used, in part, to conduct a feasibility study on creating an events center in Dickinson.

"(An events center) would add another piece to the quality of life puzzle we're trying to complete," Mayor Scott Decker told The Dickinson Press Friday.

At a budget meeting held on Aug. 28, city commissioners reallocated the $3 million to various projects drawing from the one percent sales tax fund.

Among those projects is the feasibility study for an events center.

"It's in for 2019's budget to start a (request for proposals) to find out if we can do this and if this is something the citizen's want," Linda Carlson, interim city administrator, said.

Funds will also go toward such city projects as the proposed downtown square, and streets and roads maintenance.

"It went into the fund for the one percent and it just got divvied up," Carlson said. "It goes down through those projects. A lot of them are quality of life or job creation, whatever they need to have."

Funds that were not divided among various projects will go into a reserve, Carlson said.

"You can allocate so much, but you never know how much you're going to use," she said. "For instance, for the downtown square, say we're going to put utilities in. You might allocate $600,000, but by the time you put in new infrastructure, it might cost a lot more, so we save some in the reserve of the (sales tax) fund to help preserve that."

From the $3 million, $300,000 had been given to the Theodore Roosevelt Library Foundation in 2017 as part of development costs to help bring the project to Dickinson.

The city is still pursuing the return of those funds.

"A letter was given to the foundation for reimbursement of the $300,000. It's out in public that they say they don't have the money. We haven't done any more as far as that goes," Carlson said. "It's a hardship for citizens, that $300,000, but that's sometimes the cost of doing business."

She added, "Right now, we don't have any idea that we're going to get that money back."