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City continues to grow

West Fargo City Commissioners presented a positive overview Monday night, speaking of the City's growth and future needs during the annual state of the City message that noted accomplishments in 2006 and plans for 2007.

Mayor Rich Mattern said that the phenomenal growth the City has been experiencing the past several years is continuing, with West Fargo estimated to be the fifth largest city in North Dakota. "Once construction has been completed on the dwelling units permitted, it is estimated that the population of West Fargo will be more than 24,000," he stated. "Since 2000, the City has grown by 62 percent, or an average of 8.9 percent per year."

Among the highlights he pointed out from 2006 were Marvin Windows completing their second plant, construction on two new schools, the opening of Sheyenne Crossings, completed cleanup at the former Camelot Cleaners site, and the acquisition and relocation of the former KXJB building for a new City shop facility near 12th Avenue North.

He also applauded the success of the Renaissance Zone program with 11 new projects approved; the growth of the Industrial Park that saw Trail King Industries break ground for a new 160,000 square foot plant; and the activity in Sterling Industrial Park where almost three-quarters of the lots have been purchased or optioned.

Looking ahead, Mattern said "2007 also promises to be a good year as work begins on the 9th Street Interchange, we move closer to the start of construction on the Main Avenue project (estimated for 2009), two new schools will open and work begins on updating our comprehensive plan."

Commissioner Brenda Warren, who holds the Water and Sewer portfolios, spoke about the city water supply, noting that West Fargo used more than 713,000,000 gallons of water last year, up approximately 65,450 gallons over the previous year.

In a memo to Warren, Public Works Director Barry Johnson stated that he feels water is probably the biggest issue that West Fargo has to deal with, and he thinks that the focus needs to be on the acquisition of a water source for the future. The City now relies on wells for its water supply.

Warren shared additional information saying Johnson is an active member of the Lake Agassiz Water Authority (LAWA), which is looking at bringing out Missouri River water via a pipeline and the Sheyenne River. She said that if an alternative water source can be developed through the LAWA, the City will then need to develop a Water Treatment Plant which would be a capital investment.

In the sewer area, she said a major project is in the works involving the replacement and relocation of the Westside sanitary lift station.

Commissioner Lou Bennett, who oversees the Sanitation Department, Library and Forestry areas, said the sanitation crews saw increases in all items in 2006 with the exception of composting, which he attributed to dry weather conditions.

He added that alternative uses are presently being explored for the Transfer Station on West Main Avenue, with the possible outcome something pertaining to recycling. The facility will no longer be needed by the City for garbage usage once an agreement is reached with the City of Fargo.

Bennett also cited West Fargo Public Library statistics, after a full year in the brand new facility, that showed a 14,302 increase in items checked out and the issuance of 1,839 new library cards.

Commissioner Mark Simmons, who holds the Fire and Police Department portfolios, noted the purchase of a new 3,000 gallon tanker truck in 2006 by the fire department, as well as updating protective gear; and the need for five to six new volunteer members to add to the current roster of 38 volunteers and three full-time staffers, because of the continued growth. He said 2007 will focus on a plan for a new southside fire station.

Simmons pointed out that the major highlight in 2006 for the Police Department was completion of the remodeling project that saw them taking over the old City Hall offices as well as occupying a new 825 square foot addition to the north of the building.

He added that overall calls for the department were up approximately 2,000 from 2005 figures at 12,980.

Commissioner Bryan Schulz, who is in charge of the Street and Water portfolios, said street related projects have included: the 12th Avenue North corridor study, recent improvements on Sheyenne Street south to 52nd Avenue, including turn lanes, street lighting and traffic signals, and completion of the 13th Avenue West reconstruction project, west of Sheyenne Street.

He noted that as of right now the City encompasses 9,094 acres, compared to 4,433 in 2002, with the increase a result of annexation in the past several years. As an interesting side bar, he added the City also has a total of 288.7 lane miles of roads; 110.5 miles of sidewalks; 14.7 miles of 10 foot wide bike paths; 1326 light poles; 13 traffic signals and 8,363 trees within the public right-of-way.

Schulz concluded by thanking everyone in the departments he oversees, an act also reflected by the Mayor and all the other Commissioners in their statements.

In other action, the Commission:

-approved new addresses for 15 locations in the northern part of West Fargo that will go into effect in 2008 in order to give businesses time to make necessary adjustments. City Planner Larry Weil said addresses are problematic in that they are not consistent with the community's addressing scheme, making them difficult for emergency responders to locate. He noted some of them are off by two blocks;

-agreed to give $5,000 to the Health Communities Initiative Program, a partnership effort involving Moorhead, Fargo and West Fargo officials that supports the development of healthy behaviors (assets) of youth. West Fargo Superintendent of Schools Dana Diesel Wallace, a member of the steering committee, and Barry Nelson, executive director of Moorhead efforts, updated the Commission on the program that started 12 years ago in Moorhead. Diesel Wallace said the $5,000 would be used for a survey of West Fargo students, grades 3 through 12, that would be completed this spring that will provide insight into identifying assets that can be built upon;

-approved a resolution favoring the sale of refunding improvement bonds of 2007, Series A in the amount of $10,340,000 at a bid of 4.1762 percent; and $240,000 in Sidewalk District 6043 Warrants for 2007 at a bid of 4.1432 percent.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the West Fargo City Commission will take place at 5:30 p.m., Monday, Feb. 5, in the Commission Chamber at West Fargo City Hall. All meetings are open to the public.