Support for Gathering Space explained

Josh Wolsky, Minot

A couple of weeks ago, a letter to the editor requested that a member of City Council provide justification for the gathering space investment. Mr. Ziegler, you asked; here is one Alderman’s response.

The circumstances of the Gathering Space project are this: In 2011, Minot lost both its major parks and a bunch of our little ones. That loss hurt. So, when the National Disaster Resilience Competition application was put together back in 2015, that loss was noted. The Gathering Space was proposed as a concept that would deliver resiliency in future times of flood when we’re likely to lose access to our parks. Downtown was the chosen destination because of its central location. HUD accepted the project and agreed to commit $6 million to fund it.

What you read above is the company line. And while I agree with it, these are not my primary reasons for remaining so supportive of the project. My reasons are these:

Atypical Brewery and Barrelworks, Aksal Group investments at 3 and 7 1st St. SE, Norsk Brothers investment at 18 2nd St. NE, development of the 1st and 1st Event Center, investment in (frankly, the saving of) the Soo Line Depot building, That German Place, Saul’s, the deck at the Blue Rider, all the improvements at Arny’s 2.0, outdoor seating at The Taproom and 10 North Main, The East End, the announcement that Prairie Sky Breads will be located at 3 1st St. SE, The Escape Room moving to downtown, new retail and activities like The Putt District and Red Lotus Boutique, added investments at The Spot, new food trucks like Dakota Burger Truck, Siri’s Thai Cuisine, Fun on a Bun, The Hitchen Kitchen, Beardman’s BBQ, expansions at The Urban Winery, and Flower Central, countless new events like Over The Edge, Creative Night Out, all the Little Chicago Pub District events, and Gathering 1.Oh! And let’s not forget about all those who were already there and toughed it out and stayed invested through some very difficult recent years!

That’s the off-the-top-of-my-head list, and I’m sure I’ve forgotten someone’s substantial investment in our community. To them, I apologize and thank you to all for investing in Minot!

I am excited by the list above; I think it’s a remarkable sign of how things have changed in Minot for the better. Here’s why: those investments didn’t ask for MAGIC Fund dollars and we aren’t being rescued by some outsider with a grand idea. What’s happening downtown is from Minot, by Minot, and for Minot.

Is the gathering space the reason? No, not solely. But I’ve asked many of the people responsible for the list above if it was a factor in their decisions to invest and they all said, “yes.”

That “yes” means something to me – it tells me the City is onto something worthwhile. That “yes” is also why I will remain a fierce and vocal supporter of the project. We the City made a commitment. To continue building trust and confidence in our community, we in government need to honor that commitment.

All that said, I’m not happy about our lack of progress and the many unanswered questions that remain. We on Council and other leaders in the community have work to do to ensure this project realizes its full potential. I hope you’ll tune into our regular meeting on Tuesday to catch the discussion on how we proceed.