Ellen Huber: Parking behind Dykshoorn Park improves access
Rumors are circulating regarding dirt and concrete work behind Dykshoorn Park in downtown Mandan. Both city and parks and recreation officials are receiving questions. Is it a road? An ice skating rink?
In reality, the City of Mandan is creating additional parking to provide better and alternative access to Heritage Plaza and the park itself. Employees of the businesses and organizations housed in the former rail depot and beanery buildings will park there. These entities are the Mandan Progress Organization, Mandan Art Association, Mandan Historical Society, Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation and Five Nations Art. The additional parking to the west of the buildings will free up parking in front of the depot and to the east for customers, visitors and other downtown employees.
Creating a parking area for employees is important to the vision of the Heritage Plaza Foundation, which is planning to further develop a center for visitors with a caboose from Burlington Northern Santa Fe and hopes of securing a dining car, too. The railcars and railroad displays would be placed to the south, between the depot and beanery buildings and the railroad.
During Art in the Park and other community festivals, food vendors operating from trailers generally use the area where the parking is being created. The area has been badly rutted. Maintaining grass and keeping mud at a minimum was a continual challenge. There will now be a hard surface for food trailers and picnic tables.
The parking area can also be used by spectators attending concerts held Mondays through Thursdays during the summer in the bandshell at the park. It will be especially helpful to folks that may need additional assistance getting to and from the park.
The City of Mandan owns the park after receiving it as part of the diesel fuel settlement with BNSF. City leaders asked for input from groups that hold activities in the park such as the Mandan Progress Organization, Bismarck Mandan Musicians Association and Art in the Park committee. Each organization supported the project in concept as well as monetarily. These entities viewed it as an enhancement to the activities already taking place in the park.
The Mandan City Commission approved the project at a meeting in September 2009. Funding for the project comes mostly from a portion of BNSF settlement funds plus the contributions from the groups mentioned earlier. The city commission has discussed the project at a handful of meetings over the past year, including a review of bid specifications and the award of bids.
Timing for the project was another challenge, with events taking place during the spring and summer. Fall appeared as the only window of opportunity to get the work done. The city did some tree trimming as part of the project and strived to minimize tree removal. Additional plantings are planned for spring.
If you have a question about something occurring in the community, please contact City Administrator Jim Neubauer at 667-3215. Personal contact information for elected leaders is posted on the city’s website at www.cityofmandan.com.