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Wolsky promotes resilience spending on Minot’s dead loops, strategic planning

Wolsky promotes ecological restoration, strategic planning

Jill Schramm/MDN Geese stand Friday at the edge of a dead loop of the Souris River located west of the Roosevelt Park Zoo.

A Minot City Council member is promoting the use of National Disaster Resilience grant dollars for restoration of Souris River dead loops and strategic planning around eco- nomic resilience.

The council’s meeting agenda for Monday includes discussion on the proposals from member Josh Wolsky. The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. and can be followed on Channel 19 or on the City of Minot’s YouTube channel.

Wolsky noted $355,162 remains unspent from NDR funds designated for ecolog- ical restoration.

In its NDR application, the city indicated a desire to establish an open space net- work to reduce the scale and cost of other flood protection measures and to reconnect Minot to the Souris River. The city’s NDR action plan indicated the money would bespentonactivitiessuchas potential development of parcels for wildlife habitat, trails and outdoor environ- mental education. The plan was to combine flood storage space with buyouts in the long-term flood protection system to create flood risk re- duction.

In 2017, the city council approved a resolution sup- porting restoration of Minot’s river dead loops – the natural river meanders cut off as a consequence of flood protection measures taken in the 1970s. The dead loops typically suffer from degraded habitat and water quality.

“Given the fact that the council has expressed clear intent and desire to see progress made on the dead loops, this is a funding source that has been over- looked, for whatever reason, and before I leave the coun- cil I wanted to see that we took a shot at getting this work going,” Wolsky said.

Wolsky, who is not seek- ing re-election to the council June 9, said the council will need to get a true sense of the costs, the phasing and the funding sources before ad- vancing a project to restore the dead loops.

Wolsky also is proposing the city invite a team from Strong Towns, of Brainerd, Minnesota, to conduct a se ries of site visits, which typi- cally cost in the range of $5,000 to $10,000 each. Vis- its often consist of a public presentation, followed by an in-depth conversation and consulting with key stake- holders. Common focus areas include affordable housing, neighborhood re- siliency, capital investments, jobs, growth, public engage- ment, public transportation and urban design principles.

Wolsky said Minot, along with the county, school, park district and area communi- ties, could benefit from Strong Towns’ help in evalu- ating the financial viability of proposed projects or evaluat- ing growth patterns to avoid over-extension.

“There are a lot of areas where they provide a per spective that is not com- monly heard right now,” Wolsky said.

Strong Towns founder and president Chuck Mahron has been a keynote speakerandpresenteratGov. Doug Burgum’s Main Street Summits.

The funding to work with Strong Towns could come from $60,000 not yet com- mitted in National Disaster Resilience funds set aside for economic resilience strategic planning.

Wolsky said at Mon- day’s meeting he hopes to hear from John Zakian, the city’s NDR manager, about how the proposals fit into the current action plan. That input will guide any next steps he proposes, he said.

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