Gathering space progress is good news

Working within federal or state regulation processes is not an easy thing to do. Under the best of circumstances, it can be ponderous.

Which is why City of Minot progress on the downtown gathering space project is a good sign.

From the City of Minot:

The City of Minot on Friday sent the completed Finding of No Significant Impact environmental review to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as the next step in moving forward with the downtown gathering space project. If HUD accepts the City’s filing, the agency would then issue a Release of Funds notice to the City, allowing Minot to proceed with all activities related to the project.

Despite having to undertake further environmental review based on public comments received at the end of last year, the City remains ahead of the normal timeline for these HUD reviews and approvals by at least a month. All HUD projects must follow the National Environmental Protection Act, which requires that no project can proceed or costs be incurred until an environmental review is approved. The City was able to secure an expedited review by partner agencies, including the North Dakota State Housing Preservation Officer, for the adjusted environmental review that gave the City an unconditional release for property acquisition and use of any property acquired.

There are conflicting opinions on the downtown gathering space project and how it should be configured, utilized, managed, etc. But it was part of a plan strong enough to earn Minot $73 million of federal money in the wake of the devastating flood. Obviously the federal government felt it a worthwhile enough effort to fund it. Not that there aren’t principled arguments about utilizing “federal money.” There are.

But critics should still give the gathering space plan a break. It will be years before we have any real data to decide its level of success.

In the meantime, the decent things to do is to appreciate Minot’s success in advancing the project and hope for and anticipate that it will be part of a renaissance. Isn’t that the decent thing to do?