Ellen Huber: Mandan improved in many ways in ’09
With the year 2009 quickly coming to a close, it’s time to reflect on some highlights and community accomplishments for the past year.
• Continued growth in the face of economic woes, albeit slower growth. Permits for new residential units totaled 85 at November’s end, compared to 170 in 2008 and 259 in 2007.
• Storefront improvements. Quality Home Furniture, Stepping Stones Children’s Academy, Ohm’s Café, RJR Maintenance and Management, and 300 W. Main St. (a vacant building seeking a business tenant) all received facelifts in 2009 funded in part with matching dollars through the Storefront Improvement Program. The office building at 402 First St. N.W. also received exterior enhancements, but owner Perrie Schafer opted to relinquish the allotted match, making those dollars available instead for another business in 2010.
• Redevelopment projects become reality. Mysteria Theater opened its doors a year ago, providing restaurant service and live entertainment in the remodeled movie hall. Library Square II was completed this summer, providing 45 affordable apartments for seniors and offices for nine staff members of the Lewis and Clark Regional Development Council and CommunityWorks North Dakota. CRT Investments broke ground in October and has footings in place for its four-story, mixed use building at 200 W Main St. Construction will continue through 2010.
• Major employers expand. National Information Solutions Cooperative added a 12,000 square-foot building to its campus to accommodate about 40 more employees for its bill-pay service. Thermal Line Windows is adding about 20 employees to fulfill product demand.
• Economic development toolbox expands. A second million dollar loan pool was established in June to help new and expanding businesses. Mandan created a downtown retail and restaurant rent subsidy program for 2010. We have also been asking USDA Rural Development to allow Mandan eligibility to more fully participate in its housing and community facilities programs, and asking the Morton County Commission to make Recovery Zone bonds available to reduce borrowing costs for qualified private sector businesses.
• Public infrastructure and services improve. The Mandan Fire Department established a second station in the Lakewood area to provide quicker response times for the growing southeast area of Mandan. A new water transmission line and reservoir were constructed and on the other end of the spectrum, the waste water treatment plant began field applications of bio-solids to reduce holdings and odors at the plant. A portion of Sunset Avenue, Old Red Trail and some other arterial streets received a new asphalt overlay with economic stimulus funds. Remediation of the underground downtown diesel fuel spill continues to make good progress. New directional wells are allowing clean-up beneath a portion of Main Street. The city entered into an agreement to facilitate public school district use of the Community Center. The school district will open the new sixth grade wing at Mandan Middle School after the Christmas break. The park board purchased Raging Rivers Water Park, added a new multi-use path connecting Mandan Avenue to Collins Avenue/Highway 1806, voted to hold off on building a new recreation center, but continues to contemplate options for a public fitness center. Morton County opened Harmon Lake and upgraded the 911 communications center now operated jointly with the city.
• Events flourish. Buggies-n-Blues took a second try in July due to cold, rainy-to-snowy weather in June, but was ultimately a crowd pleaser. Mandan Rodeo Days was voted the Best Big Event and Best Small Town Festival by Bismarck Tribune readers for the fourth consecutive year.
• Mandan Tomorrow. Business leaders, elected officials and citizens completed a new strategic vision plan for Mandan with input from hundreds of others. Four committees are working on implementation. Mark you calendars for a community forum planned Jan. 18 at 5:30 p.m. at the Mandan Middle School for reports on 2010 priorities, action plans and ways to become involved.