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Roosevelt presidential library board discusses lease agreement, fundraising tour in Dickinson

A meeting of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation board was restricted to an informational session due low attendance and a lack of quorum Monday morning.

A meeting of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation board was restricted to an informational session due low attendance and a lack of quorum Monday morning.

Dickinson State University interim President Jim Ozbun reported to the board that he had provided the necessary materials to the North Dakota Attorney General's office to draw up a lease agreement for the DSU rodeo grounds, the location chosen for the future presidential library, but had not yet received a completed agreement.

Ozbun said the new lease would be "very similar" to the one created for Hawks Point, the senior living community established on the DSU campus, as a 99-year lease with a payment of $1 a year.

The exact amount of land included in the agreement, he added, was a detail that would have to be straightened out during board Chair Bruce Pitts' visit to Dickinson this week.

"How much of that land, or maybe all of it, do you really want?" Ozbun asked. "The more you take, the more you have to maintain."

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Ozbun said he had included the entire 25-acre parcel in his plans, but could amend that to suit further input.

At their previous meeting on Nov. 2, board members had discussed at length the project's ongoing critical need for funding, particularly seed money for their pre-construction and operational costs.

Pitts described the library's status then as a "very severely undercapitalized project," in need of immediate contributions and said the board would submit a formal request to the city of Dickinson to begin the release of funds to cover pre-construction costs.

The city pledged $3 million in support of the project in 2014, but had earmarked it for construction costs only, a situation Pitts likened to a "chicken-and-an-egg issue."

In their most recent conference call, Pitts said fundraising will be be "a focus" during his trip to Dickinson, which will include a visit to the City Commission meeting Monday evening and attendance at the Dickinson Kiwanis and Rotary Club meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively.

North Dakota Senate Majority Leader Rich Wardner advised Pitts to try for an "open discussion" with commissioners at the meeting.

"I think they're supportive of it, but they would let you know how they feel," Wardner said. "That's what you want to know, 'What do you guys think?'"

Rep. Vicky Steiner, R-Dickinson, a library board member, advised Pitts to be transparent with the commission about the project's successes and challenges to date.

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Steiner also said she had a pool of about 10 "very well-connected" local people interested in meeting with Pitts sometime during his visit to discuss funding.

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