JDA board confident in future of Chalmers
Members of the Rugby Job Development Authority expressed confidence in the Chalmers First Addition housing project during a regular JDA meeting Wednesday.
With the streets paved, two lots sold and a builder prepared to develop three duplexes on a four-lot area, the JDA board discussed plans to further advertise the project inside and outside the city.
JDA interim executive director SyAnn Graber will begin contacting television stations in Minot and Devils Lake. The board discussed inviting reporters to a ribbon cutting or grand opening to be held toward the end of the month or possibly Geographical Center Day on Sept. 6.
Fr. Tom Graner suggested hosting the event the morning of Geographical Center Day, which is also the day of the second Daryl Kuhnhenn Memorial Ride.
Rugby Mayor Arland Geiszler suggested informing the television stations of other completed and ongoing projects in the city, including the addition to the park district’s walking path and new playground equipment.
Board member Kipp Johnson suggested having the Gooseneck Implement move highlighted. JDA President Dave Cichos suggested having the new fire hall construction included.
Updates on the project began with the board approving a motion for a four-month hold on a four-lot option in the northeast portion of Chalmers, which is zoned for apartments and townhomes. A company named KTMF is interested in putting three duplexes over the four lots. Cichos stated that attorney Galen Mack was working on a contract between the city and JDA for the three lots. Cichos and Graber did not know where the company is based out of.
Betty Triplett, the Ramsey Bank appointee to the board, asked if $1,000 was enough for the four-month hold. Graber said the holds typically go for $1,000 per lot, but KTMF’s request was unique in that no other developers have requested an option for Chalmers lots. The board will review the contract when completed.
Cichos explained that it is currently too wet to lay the pipe at the north end of the Chalmers Addition to connect to city storm sewer. Geiszler said the material is there and the delay is another example of water problems facing the city.
Cichos expected signs (with maps) advertising the Chalmers lots to be erected this week. Geiszler said he expects the addition to be seeded soon. Cichos said the state nursery in Towner should be contacted about boulevard trees for the addition.
Board discusses city council meeting
Cichos responded to Ward 4 Council Member Craig Zachmeier’s questions on the JDA’s role in the Chalmer’s Addition. Zachmeier questioned whether the JDA is authorized to manage the housing project and whether it has the resources.
“We didn’t do anything wrong,” Cichos said. “Our charter was a to bring primary sector jobs and infrastructure.”
Kipp Johnson stated that the manner in which the questions were asked “felt like an attack.”
“I wish it would’ve been handled differently with discussion instead of just being brought up,” Johnson said.
Geiszler said the 52-lot addition was advertised properly and posted for two weeks in the newspaper. Ward 3 Council Member Joel Berg, a member of the JDA, said Zachmeier was concerned with why the city’s comprehensive housing study was not followed, as well as the opinion of the city attorney.
Johnson said he was glad people are reading the housing study because it said the city needed housing.
The 83-page, $9995 study, conducted by a Community Partners Research, Inc., of Fairbault, Minn., recommended a six-to-eight lot affordable subdivision. The study also recommended the city “focus heavily on the preservation, maintenance and improvement of the housing stock that already exists: this is especially important for affordable housing opportunities, as it will almost always be less expensive to offer an affordable unit through rehabilitation versus new construction.”
Natural gas discussed
Geiszler and Cichos shared that members of the community met with Julie Fedorchak, a commissioner with the North Dakota Public Service Commission, on Monday. Cichos stated that a natural pipeline will likely be coming north of the city and Rugby leaders said they would be interested.
Cichos stated that Fedorchak told the meeting that it would be an expensive project, costing about $1 million per mile of pipeline going south into Rugby off the proposed main east-west line across the state. He stated that the hospital, Rugby Manufacturing, the school district and elevator would likely be interested.
Geiszler said he was contacted a week earlier for assistance setting up the meeting.
He said Fedorchak estimated getting the natural gas to the city would cost about $10 million. Rugby is considered because it’s near a major rail line and U.S. 2.
The JDA board was informed that smaller communities in Minnesota have had taxpayers paying about $600 per year for similar services. Each taxpayer would be responsible for converting his or her heating system to natural gas.
Board denies chamber request
Graber stated that the Rugby Area Chamber of Commerce requested a donation between $200 and $300 for Geographical Center Day. Cichos and board member Kipp Johnson stated that a donation of that nature does not match job development.
The JDA’s strategic plan provides language supporting similar donation requests.
The 2010-2015 Pierce County and Rugby Strategic Plan, which can be found on the JDA website, states: “The Rugby JDA will provide tools and local and state resources to promote tourism and recreation and natural heritage using sustainable practices as an economic development strategy.”
The first goal under the “Tourism, Cultural and Recreation Enhancement” section states: “Provide technical assistance, support, encouragement and partner with other organizations involved in growing tourism opportunities in Rugby and Pierce County.”
Director’s report and more
Graber said the JDA web page and Facebook page are updated. She said people are stopping in on a weekly basis for Chalmer’s Addition maps. She said two new businesses are interested in Rugby. Graber told Johnson that advertising will begin with Clear Channel radio and ads are running in a rummage sale publication, which serves Minot and Rugby.
Geiszler informed the board that the department of transportation is working with Gooseneck Implement to extend the frontage road on the south side of U.S. 2. The DOT will pay 80 percent of the costs.
The mayor hopes additional commercial opportunities will follow the annexation of land along U.S. 2.
“Rugby’s been bypassed for some years because we haven’t had the commercial opportunities,” he said.
The JDA approved its July minutes and treasurer’s report. Graber stated that she is going to clarify the financial reports to include what advertising and marketing dollars are going to the Chalmers Addition and professional fees.
Tanner Johnson, the new Bremer Bank appointee, was welcomed.
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