Dickinson's Comprehensive Plan to be updated

City Administrator Brian Winningham sat down with The Press this week, to discuss funding provided by the North Dakota Department of Commerce that will go toward the city’s Comprehensive Plan, which benefits city services such as police, fire and public works. Designed as a roadmap to lead Dickinson to the future, Winningham touches on how on track the city is with the plan and goals he wants to achieve moving forward.

City Administrator Brian Winningham is pictured. (Jackie Jahfetson/The Dickinson Press)

Receiving a grant of more than $23,000, the City of Dickinson plans to use those funds to help transform the downtown community into a hub of pedestrian traffic, revitalization and eager shopping. Thus, these granted funds will help update the Comprehensive Plan for the City of Dickinson.

The North Dakota Department of Commerce announced at the beginning of March that eight communities across the state received funding as part of the second round of the Main Street Initiative Partners in Planning Grant — Dickinson receiving $23,400. City Administrator Brian Winningham noted that though the Comprehensive Plan still meets the goals the city adopted in 2013, circumstances have changed since it was first adopted into municipal code.

“Those funds will help the city reduce our costs in using our city's own funds. Those funds will be used to update the plan, meaning we can then have something more, whether it's digitally or on paper, that helps us with the implementation of the Comprehensive Plan,” Winningham said. “Some of our implementation needs to be updated, because some of the data is older data.”

The original plan projected that Dickinson would be at a population of 40,000 by 2020. Currently, Dickinson nears 23,000 people.

With a two-year downturn in oil production, a midsummer collapse of the oil index and the rapidly spreading coronavirus pandemic, Winningham conceded that 2020 was a good indication that there was not likely to be a population spike any time soon. To adjust the needs and priorities of Dickinson, which has not met the population boon projected in the original plan but developed different needs over the last 8 years, Winningham said it was vital to review the Comprehensive Plan and pinpoint priorities and services city officials and the Dickinson City Commission feel are integral to the current Dickinson community.


Designed to be the vision for 2035, the plan is a “roadmap,” and something that the city can update as time and worldly events impact the economy. A large portion of the plan has not been updated in the past five years, something the grant funding awarded through Gov. Doug Burgum’s five initiatives for North Dakota will allow for.

“It's very useful when you look at creating… the mark on the map, that's what I'm going to call it. We're creating a mark on the map to know where we're at. Where are you at on the map?” Winningham said, adding, “Well, we need that as the new start point. So we've made it this far, I think that the city has done an exceptional job of getting us to where we're at now. And we're not racing to failure. We're not trying to speed up because this was created during the boom.”

Looking at Chapter 8 of the Comprehensive Plan on “City Services,” the city’s police and fire departments comprised a main portion of the city services and was something Winningham hopes to maintain as an immediate focus.

“I just know that our current city services we provide, in what I've seen and what I've been able to understand with our city service, is really impressive... Our recycling, our sanitation department, our police and fire. I mean, these are some world class services... You don't hear often about the great things that our police and fire do, because they don't fail. You'll hear things when there’s a catastrophe. And so, I'm thankful that our men and women that are working are always training, ready to go — coiled springs…” he said. “So we think, as a city, that those are the services you want to maintain. And those are hard to maintain, you have to hone those daily so that you don't have a failure.”

Winningham said he wants to continue focusing on Chapter 11’s two main objectives.

The first objective is to establish regular coordination meetings with Stark County, Parks and Recreation Board, Dickinson school district, Southwest Water Authority and other local regional state agencies. Moving forward, Winningham wants to incorporate more of those meetings in an effort to have joint-agency communication and troubleshooting. The second objective in the plan proposes to increase efficiency of providing services, through the sharing of resources, reallocation of responsibilities between city departments, and between the city and other local and county agencies.

“So that objective also allows us to save costs, and not duplicate services. So we want to compliment services where they're needed, but we don't want to duplicate services necessarily. Meaning if the state of North Dakota with the Badlands Behavioral Health Services can compliment our needs of the city, then we'll partner with them and use that service so that we're not duplicating those," Winningham explained. "We can't create our own behavioral health services, primarily because it's a skill set, it's cost prohibitive and we would rather use the services we have here.”

He added, “So that's the idea for some of the implementation. It's a small initiative right now, but it gives us our geolocation on the map... Here's where we're at on this roadmap. How have we done? And then essentially painting the picture for where we're going.”


The funds provided through the North Dakota Department of Commerce will be used to update Dickinson’s Comprehensive Plan, but also in continuing to envision the roadmap of Dickinson's actual needs.

“(It keeps) us on the map with the state of North Dakota, that we are a city that not only wants to seek funds that are offered by the state. We also want to partner with the state to ensure that (we receive) any support they can give us for Main Street Initiatives, and that we are also supporting the strategic state initiatives,” he added.

To view the Comprehensive Plan, visit

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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