Residents weigh in on gathering place

Jill Schramm/MDN
Display boards at Tuesday’s public meeting show renderings of gathering space concepts and include ballot boxes for residents to cast votes for their top choices.

Jill Schramm/MDN Display boards at Tuesday’s public meeting show renderings of gathering space concepts and include ballot boxes for residents to cast votes for their top choices.

Residents caught a glimpse of what the City of Minot is considering for a downtown gathering place at the first of two public input meetings Tuesday.

The first step is to choose a location, and that’s where public feedback will play a large role in the next few weeks. The city has identified three potential locations, each about two acres.

“There’s no perfect site within the downtown,” said John Zakian, manager of the city’s National Disaster Resilience Program. With that in mind, Zakian asked meeting participants to help select the site that they feel is best suited to meet the objectives of visibility, connectivity and economic impact while staying within the $6 million included in the resilience program for acquisition and development of property.

Public input provides 30 percent of the weighting factor for the committee selecting the site. People who are unable to attend a public meeting can respond to a survey online at minotnd.org through Dec. 19.

The proposed locations are the Trinity parking lot abutting Broadway and south of Second Avenue Southwest; a mid-town property located in the block north of First Avenue Southeast and south of Central Avenue, with First Street Southeast on the west and railroad tracks running diagonally on the east side; and a property north of the Canadian Pacific railroad tracks on the east side of Third Street Southeast.

At Tuesday’s meeting, a participant raised concern about noise or possible derailments at sites near railroads. Although a wall is a possibility, there’s also sentiment in support of incorporating the railroad – part of the city’s history – into the aesthetics of a gathering place.

One resident advocated for a gathering space that can provide four-season activities and that offers more than just another park. Another resident favored sites with structures for business opportunities that can provide economic development.

Residents asked about the loss of property taxes once a site becomes city-owned and questioned whether the city’s grant will be enough for the project, given the cost of a property purchase. The public wanted to know who would pay for ongoing maintenance. Zakian said the city is in talks with the Minot Park District regarding maintenance.

Asked about environmental concerns with any of the proposed sites, Zakian said no problems are apparent, but the site selected will be investigated to ensure costs are reasonable before that site continues in the process. He estimated that environmental review could take four or five months.

A second public meeting on site selection will be held Dec. 18 at 6 p.m. in Minot Municipal Auditorium, Room 301.

Once a site is selected, there will be future public meetings to suggest features for the gathering space. Among ideas are a farmers market, walking and biking trails, fun zones, a stage and space for events such as movie nights and arts festivals.

The technical review committee to make the site selection consists of Zakian, council member Shannon Straight, City Engineer Lance Meyer, Planning Director and Chief Resilience Officer Robert Davis and representatives of the Downtown Business & Professional Association, Minot Park District and consultant CDM Smith.

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