Dept. of Commerce & DOT in VC

TR Staff
Staff Writer

NDDOT and Dept. of Commerce Pay a Visit:
MSI Construction has Begun in Valley City
By Ellie Boese

On Wednesday, May 1, representatives of the NDDOT, KLJ, Barnes County Commission, Valley City Commission, North Dakota Department of Commerce and Streetscape Committee Representatives gathered at City Hall to discuss and view the construction that has begun on Central Avenue.
Mayor Carlsrud writes that the small gathering was to celebrate the commencement of a previously out-of-reach project:
“Thanks to Governor Burgum’s Main Street Initiative (MSI), construction has begun in Valley City. The Valley City project includes electrical infrastructure, streetlights, traffic signals, bump outs and expanded sidewalks. In Valley City’s case, monies had been saved and earmarked for a Streetscape Project. It was certainly a noble plan, but costs being what they are, the project would not have been feasible.”
Shawn Kessel, ND Dept. of Commerce Deputy Commissioner, said he was invited to Valley City and was more than happy to do so in light of the MSI work the city has begun.
“What you’re doing here meets so many of the MSI concepts,” Kessel said. “I applaud you for your efforts. And I hope this is a shining example of what to do in a downtown that we as [The Department of Commerce] can tell people, ‘look what they did in Valley City; do that and you’ll be successful.’”
Kessel made his appearance alongside NDDOT representatives, as he was a member of the NDDOT committee that judged applications for MSI grants, one of which came from Valley City.
“We scored and ranked projects that ended up getting you funding for this,” Kessel said, “and if I remember right, this was our highest-ranked project of those submitted.”
Because the ND Department of Commerce is the entity that is administering the MSI, Kessel thought it was especially important to remind Valley City of their support.
“I’m here to embrace what you guys are doing,” Kessel said, “and help in any way that I can.”
The NDDOT surveyed the work and listened to Kessel speak a bit about the success they anticipate Streetscape being. Both Mayor Dave Carlsrud and City Administrator David Schelkoph praised the NDDOT for all of the extra assistance they are providing Valley City during this project.
“Right now, we wouldn’t be able to do what we’re doing in Valley City without their partnership,” Schelkoph said. “No question. They’re a valued part of who we are as a city, and we appreciate it.”
“The NDDOT has gone the extra mile to help us when maybe it wouldn’t have had to,” Carlsrud said. “We want to recognize the efforts the Department of Commerce and North Dakota DOT have put forth in our communities around North Dakota.”
Kessel shared that the ND Dept. of Commerce and NDDOT, in awarding Valley City the highest grant for the project, see a very unique combination of features here. (1) the university, (2) the river, and (3) the interstate.
“These put you on a shortlist in communities,” Kessel said. “Those economic advantages will not be replicated in other cities. You can’t create those things. You have access to three things that a lot of cities in North Dakota don’t have. ”
He continued by saying that he sees the investments Valley City is making in its downtown infrastructure as investing in economic wealth.
“You are creating an environment here that will allow economic development to take place and for people to make a decision to come to Valley City,” he said. “They’ll see what you’re doing here.”
Mayor Carlsrud thanks Governor Burgum for his support as well, stating that because he believes in communities throughout the state, those communities have the ability to complete projects “that were previously only dreams.”
When asked about his reaction to the criticism this project has received from some residents, Kessel had this to say:
“I think change is difficult for a lot of people, and I think change for change’s sake is probably inappropriate, but Valley City has a plan in place and is working on a comprehensive plan, which is not done without input. From what I understand, citizens had public meetings to attend for offering input. Passion is good; it tells me that there are people in Valley City who are passionately tied to its success.”
He continued, “and just because they have a difference in opinion doesn’t mean they aren’t passionate about Valley City being successful. I think you could look at it that way. It’s not necessarily a negative, because if everyone was on the same page all the time and you would lack diversity of thought, which means you have a lack of diversity in opinion as well, and some ideas wouldn’t ever be considered. I’m actually encouraged by some opposition.”
Through the MSI project, Mayor Carlsrud finished, the city is striving to meet the Governor’s “Three Pillars of Economic Success.”
(1) A Skilled Work Force
(2) Smart, Efficient Infrastructure
(3) Healthy, Vibrant Communities