A desire to improve quality of life and address needs in critical areas such as fire protection, water, flood protection and workforce led to a number of public construction projects, both new and ongoing, in the Minot area in 2022.
The Mouse River Enhanced Flood Protection Project made progress, as did the Northwest Area Water Supply project. Minot Public Schools began construction on a new North Hill high school, while Minot State University wrapped up work on a renovated summer theater and started on renovation of Harnett Hall. The City of Minot has been working on a new City Hall that it looks to move into this coming spring. Minot Park District also has had a busy year for construction of recreational and zoo facilities.
Leopard habitat at zoo
Construction began in spring 2022 on the new Amur leopard habitat in Roosevelt Park Zoo in Minot.
The leopard habitat is the third and final capital campaign project for the zoo’s big cats being done as part of the zoo’s centennial celebration observed in 2021. New habitats for the African lions and Amur tigers were completed earlier.
“Our leopard habitat funding has been secured with the help of a Minot Park District revenue bond. Donations we receive through the end of construction lessen that obligation,” said Jennifer Kleen, executive director of the Greater Minot Zoological Society.
Rolac Contracting Inc. of Minot is building the new leopard habitat at the zoo’s former cat habitat once occupied by the African lions and Amur tigers.
“Our wire mesh is going up now – slowed by the cold,” said Kleen on Dec. 7. “We still have landscaping and finishing touches in the spring.”
Ackerman-Estvold architectural firm in Minot designed the leopard habitat and also the habitats for the African lions and Amur tigers.
Clover, an Amur leopard and currently the zoo’s only leopard, is in a separate yard from the tigers while the new area is being built.
“We will likely celebrate a habitat opening with the summer season starting in May and later in the summer we’d have a Big Cat Celebration – having completed three big cat habitats in six years – investing more than $9 million for lions, tigers and leopards,” Kleen said.
The Minot Park District and Magic City Girls Fast Pitch broke ground on improvements to the South Hill Complex in May.
A $250,000 donation from SCHEELS led to the renaming of the facility as the Scheels Complex at South Hill. Projects at the Scheels Complex include completely renovated restrooms, concession stand, locker rooms and safety netting.
Work is continuing through the winter, with projected completion in the spring. The winter work consists of finishing building interiors and installing the netting to protect spectators.
The Scheels Complex is home to the Magic City Girls Fast Pitch, Minot High Girls Fast Pitch, Minot State Women’s Fast Pitch and Bishop Ryan Fast Pitch. The Scheels Complex is also used by the Minot Park District Baseball and T Ball leagues. Additionally, the Dream Catchers field, an adaptive field for people of all ages and abilities, is located at the complex.
Outdoor Recreation Trail
The Minot Park Board held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Aug. 26 for the completed first phase of the Outdoor Recreation Trail, a 1.75-mile concrete and earthen path through the scenic rolling prairie. The park district purchased the property west of the city from the State Land Trust after the 2011 flood.
Grants paid a large share of the development cost. Grants also are expected to help pay for additional trails to be built within the 240-acre Outdoor Recreation Area. The Hess grant is being used for interpretive signing and amenities such as benches.
Progress was made on flood protection in Burlington, Tierrecita Vallejo and portions of Minot in 2022.
As the year drew to a close, levee improvements were nearly done at Tierrecita Vallejo, a subdivision west of Minot. In early November, preliminary seeding was done on the levee, and final seeding will happen next spring.
According to information from the Souris River Joint Board, a portion of the project just northwest of the subdivision that involves a rail line is awaiting an agreement with Canadian Pacific Railway before it also will be completed. The MI-2C West Peterson Coulee Outlet, a storm sewer project just west of Minot, has some final pieces to complete, with paving and seeding happening in the spring.
The past year saw the completion of the new Sawyer Bridge. Contractors will start on the new Mouse River Park Bridge and Velva Bridge in 2023.
The final phase of flood work in Burlington has been under way, with completion expected in the spring.
Construction also will continue on MI-5 in northeast Minot, where activity shut down part of Railway Avenue as of August. Work started this past summer on the east side of the project area, where a stormwater pump station will be constructed. It is anticipated that construction will last on portions of the project until 2025.
The MI-5 segment begins near Third Street Northeast and runs along the north property line of BNSF’s existing yard before tying into high ground east of 13th Street Northeast. It will include concrete floodwalls, earthen levees, roadway changes, a pump station and dry storm water pond.
Another bit of work accomplished in 2022 was the relocation of utilities for the future Maple Diversion project. Design work continues on that project. Sen. John Hoeven, R-ND, announced last January that the project had been awarded $61.45 million in federal funds toward construction — the first and only federal dollars associated with the overall project.
Design work continues on MI-6 Downtown and MI-7 Roosevelt Park and Zoo. Public meetings were held this past year on those projects.
Another highlight of the year was a May 6 ceremony celebrating the completion of the Fourth Avenue North Floodwall, hosted by the Souris River Joint Board and City of Minot. Gov. Doug Burgum, Sen. John Hoeven, representatives from the state Department of Water Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers participated and toured the flood construction project.
The State Water Commission in June allocated $46.6 million in federal Municipal, Rural and Industrial Water Supply Program funding for the Northwest Area Water Supply (NAWS) project.
The funding will be used to continue construction on the Biota Water Treatment Plant near Max and for Minot Water Treatment Plant Phase III efforts. Once completed, at least 16 public water systems and 81,000 people will be served by NAWS.
About $125 million in construction had been occurring on NAWS in 2022. About $64 million has been going into Phase I of the biota treatment plant that has been rising from the prairie at Max.
Substantial completion of the current work on the plant won’t come until the end of 2023. The start of operations will depend on pieces falling into place with the intake structure at the Snake Creek Pumping Plant on Lake Sakakawea. The state was working in 2022 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to obtain the necessary permits.
A 10.5 million-gallon water reservoir also was under construction in 2022 between the biota treatment plant and Minot. Construction of a 4.5-million-gallon reservoir at Lansford was completed in the fall of 2022.
The Minot Water Treatment Plant also saw an expansion completed that increased capacity to 18 million gallons a day, which can be achieved once water is available from Lake Sakakawea. Under a contract with NAWS, the city has been using its treatment facilities to produce NAWS water for area communities from its groundwater sources.
The city of Bottineau added to the communities receiving water through the City of Minot in October after completion of key infrastructure, including a pipeline finished in January 2022.
Other communities being served are Burlington, Berthold, Kenmare, Mohall and Sherwood. The communities of Des Lacs, Carpio, Ruthville, Lansford, Glenburn and others are served indirectly through rural water systems that get their water through NAWS infrastructure.
Remaining to be built are a 3-million-gallon reservoir and pump station at Bottineau, the second phase of work at the biota plant, a third phase at the Minot plant and another pump station at the Souris corner. NAWS is projected for completion in 2029.
Fire Station 5
The Minot Fire Department broke ground in June for a northwest station on Fourth Avenue, near 26th Street Northwest. It is expected to finish this coming summer.
“This location was strategically chosen a few years ago with a single purpose in mind,” Fire Chief Kelli Kronschnabel said at the groundbreaking event. “Number one, construct a fire station to improve the level of fire protection and emergency response for all of Minot, but especially for the northwest section of our community. When it becomes operational next summer, this station will provide immediate and permanent fire protection for this section of MInot and will give our firefighters who will call the station home away from home the ability to make an even greater difference for the residents of our community. And it’ll give everyone in northwest Minot a little more peace of mind knowing that in case of an emergency, help is closer than ever before.”
The site of Station 5 was selected for its strategic location. It’s close to the West 83 Bypass exit, allowing easy and quick access to the bypass if needed. It also could mean reduced fire insurance premiums for residents in the area.
Work was going full steam on renovating the former Wells Fargo bank building into a new city and dispatch center over the course of 2022.
“Things are progressing very well,” City Engineer Lance Meyer said. “We anticipate some of the building being turned over to us sometime probably toward the end of January. At that time, the city will start installing furniture.”
City staff could begin moving in during April, starting with the technology staff who will get systems ready. Meyer said it likely will be a gradual move that occurs in stages with one department at a time. Central Dispatch also will be moving once other departments have been relocated, he said.
At the end of 2022, the new city hall building was looking like an office building, with much of the interior work completed. Contractors had largely gutted the building and rebuilt interior walls, removing an escalator and replacing it with stairs, an elevator and skylight.
“It doesn’t even look like the same building. It will be completely different. The only thing that’s really staying the same is the staircases on the north and south sides of the building,” Meyer said.
The exterior will have a new front entrance and signage.
A public open house is tentatively being planned for next May.
Construction made headway on a $4.2 million transfer station to serve a future curbside recycling program in Minot. The city council decided in May to proceed with a transfer station rather than switch gears to pursue a sorting center. It will seek proposals from sorting centers to take the recyclables.
The new transfer station has been taking shape on the south end of the Minot Landfill, along 37th Avenue Southwest/Ward County Road 14. Final completion is next summer. The contractor is pretty much on schedule, and recycling implementation is planned for next July, according to the city.
The city council has begun making plans for using one of the two collection days each week as a pickup day. Residents also would have a one-time chance to opt out of curbside recycling.
Following a pandemic-related delay, Minot’s roughly $5.8 million retaining wall project finally got off the ground this past spring. However, work on the new wall between the Minot Municipal Auditorium and City Hall that was to wrap up in November now has been extended to possibly June.
The project ran into a number of problems, including fabrication and installation issues that have required re-engineering. The steel piles and wood boarding that provide the retaining feature are in place. The decorative concrete has yet to be installed. There also is a need to replace a cast iron water main and redo the more than 50-year-old parking lot around the auditorium before the project can be called finished.
Minot Public Schools projects
“It’s going to be absolutely beautiful,” said Minot Public Schools Superintendent Mark Vollmer about the new North Minot High School, which will be located on the site of the former Cognizant building in northwest Minot.
Vollmer said earlier this month that the main building has been gutted and footings and foundations were being poured on the additions to the main building. That work will be finished next spring.
Roofing and sheet rocking will be started soon on the site of the new Minot Workforce Academy, located in a building on the campus where a child care center had been located. That project is slated to be completed by the fall of 2023.
North Minot High will also have a new swimming pool, stadium, track and football field.
The new 9-12 high school will open in the fall of 2024.
Vollmer said high inflation is impacting the cost of construction but the district is trying to keep costs down by using less costly amenities. However, the buildings will still look nice. Cognizant donated the buildings to the school district, which substantially reduced the costs of the new high school project.
Voters in the district approved the $109 million bond issue to fund the project. In addition to the 9-12 North Minot High School, the money will also fund the conversion of Magic City Campus into a 9-12 high school and of Central Campus into a third in-town middle school. Currently, the high school is split across two campuses, with grades 9-10 at Central Campus and 11-12 at Magic City Campus.
Changes are already being noticed in the district, with some of the freshmen who will attend the North Minot High School as juniors playing on high school athletic teams for girls and boys basketball, volleyball and golf as the Minot North Sentinels.
Work on a gymnasium addition at Magic City Campus is also proceeding. Vollmer said foundations have been poured and pre-fabricated walls will go up this winter. The gymnasium and extra girls locker space, needed for the additional underclassmen who will attend the high school, will be used primarily for physical education but also for games. Vollmer said Magic City Campus was built in the early 1970s, before Title IX meant more girls played sports. That means the school is lacking in locker rooms for girls.
Remodeling work on the family and consumer science classrooms has also been done, and Vollmer said the science classrooms are to be remodeled and will be bid out.
Renovation on Central Campus to turn it into a middle school will take place in the summer of 2024. Vollmer said not as much work is needed on Central.
Minot State University is in the process of a $25 million complete renovation to Hartnett Hall, according to the university.
The project began with relocation of Minot State academic departments in May 2022, followed by demolition last summer. Construction is expected to be completed in late 2023 or early 2024, with the newly renovated building being occupied in 2024.
The Hartnett Hall renovation project was awarded by North Dakota Legislature in a special session in 2021 and will utilize American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 funds for a complete renovation of the building.
“Hartnett Hall houses important educational programs at MSU, where large numbers of our students in a variety of academic disciplines take classes,” said MSU President Steven Shirley. “We are grateful to the North Dakota Legislature and Gov. (Doug) Burgum for supporting this important campus renovation, and look forward to Hartnett remaining a vital campus space for future classes of MSU students.”
The project seeks to revitalize and modernize Hartnett Hall, built in the early 1970s, helping to relieve congestion, improve entrances, enhance flexibility of spaces, upgrade ventilation and improve daylight throughout the building.
Hartnett Hall is home to several key liberal arts programs at MSU, such as English, world languages, humanities, art, theatre arts, professional communication — including the KMSU radio station and television studio — as well as many general education courses. The programs displaced by the construction have been temporarily housed throughout campus, with Old Main and Swain Hall serving as primary locations.
Through a competitive process, Minot State selected Ackerman-Estvold for the building design and McGough Construction to lead the construction. The architects and construction managers worked closely with department chairs, faculty and university administration to design the updated facility.
As of December 2022, the building design is complete, and interior demolition, including asbestos and environmental remediation, is finished. Construction has begun and the campus community is seeing the building exterior transform as the front entrance is renovated, new windows are added, and the façade improved to aesthetically blend better with other buildings on campus. The project will update landscaping on the grounds surrounding the building in the spring and summer.
Interior work will be underway for the next 12 months to improve the look and functionality of interior spaces with all new labs, workspaces, classrooms, offices, a new gathering space and a new recital/lecture hall. Aleshire Theater will undergo a renovation to upgrade and modernize the 200-seat auditorium and MSU plans to house its newly established esports program within the new space.
An old building, formerly owned by Trinity Health, at 120 Burdick Expressway East in Minot, will be turned into a Career and Technical Education Center operated by Dakota College at Bottineau.
Campus dean Carmen Simone said dental assisting is the first program the college will offer in the ground floor of the building. It will hopefully be ready to open in the fall of 2023. A dental hygiene program will be offered soon afterwards.
“I’ve heard that there’s a tremendous need in both of those areas all around North Dakota,” said Simone.
Asbestos abatement on the building was completed in October. Renovation bids came in ata $5.24 million, or about $1.84 million higher than funds available, in December. An additional $3 million will be needed to reach the final $6.4 million cost for the entire project, including a parking lot, new rooms new windows landscaping exterior metalwork and computer equipment. Funding sources include $3.4 million from the City of Minot’s National Disaster Resilience Program.
MSU Summer Theatre
The Minot State University Summer Theatre project was completed in time for the start of the summer 2022 season.
Rick Hedberg, vice president for advancement and MSU Development Foundation executive director, said at a ribbon-cutting ceremony that the $2.8 million project was completed with funds raised privately and it has been a long process.
The stage at the newly remodeled MSU Summer Theatre was named in honor of well-known actor Josh Duhamel, who made a sizable gift toward the renovation and grew up in Minot. Nearly 500 businesses and individuals also gave gifts that have made the project a reality.
Phase Two of the project was completed in the summer of 2021 and includes renovation of the bathrooms, ticket office, dressing rooms and office space, along with a new plaza, drive-through and lower-level concessions.
Eloise Ogden, Jill Schramm and Andrea Johnson contributed to this article.