Posted 3/16/11 (Wed)
By Neal A. Shipman
While the North Dakota Legislature is still debating how much funding will be made available to oil-impacted communities, such as Watford City, for infrastructure improvement assistance, the Watford City City Council decided on Monday evening that the city needed to continue pressing forward with plans to expand city water and sewer service into newly annexed areas.
“We don’t have much choice but to move forward with designing the new systems,” stated Brent Sanford, Watford City mayor during the council’s meeting on March 7. “We won’t know anything until the end of April when we learn what the Legislature does.”
And according to Sanford, if the city waits until April to know what the Legislature is going to provide in the way of financial help, it could very well be too late for the 2011 construction season.
“There is four months of engineering work to do before construction could start,” stated David Johnson with Advanced Engineering. “It would be those engineering costs that the city would have at risk if the Legislature didn’t approve infrastructure assistance for oil-impacted cities.”
According to Johnson, the total engineering cost to bring water and sewer service to the land south and west of the city that was recently annexed into the city limits, as well as for engineering work to expand the sewer line east to the existing lagoons would be approximately $130,000.
The Watford City City Council had earlier hired Advanced Engineering to do a comprehensive city plan that would identify needed infrastructure improvements to meet the city’s growth projections and Johnson was at Monday night’s meeting to present the final report.
As a result of increased population growth in Watford City as a result of oil field activity, according to Johnson, the city is looking at $17 million of needed infrastructure improvements in the next five years.
“Will all of these improvements need to happen?” asked Johnson. “It’s hard to say. It depends upon development and growth.”
According to Johnson, based on population projections, Watford City could see a peak population of 3,000 people.
“However, those studies did not address possible gas plants or oil refineries,” stated Johnson. “It only looked at post production needs. From our standpoint, 3,000 people is the bare minimum that Watford City needs to plan for.”
According to Johnson, the city is looking at a price tag of $3.6 million the first year to bring water and sewer service into newly annexed areas of the city.
“The city is going to have to find the money to reach out to these growth areas,” stated Johnson. “There is a huge cost to open up these areas.”
But according to Sanford, the developers of these new areas are also going to have to come up with money for their development.
“The governor’s intent is to get us this money so that we can expand our service to these areas,” stated Sanford. “Once we have service to the new development areas, it will be up to the developers to build their own service.”
During Monday night’s meeting in which Johnson outlined the final report, he also noted that it was recommended that the city consider a bypass to eliminate the traffic problem at the corner of Main Street and U.S. Highway 85.
“We would recommend that the city consider a bypass that would extend west of the existing Highway 23 bypass,” stated Johnson. “Any new bypass would take considerable design work by the North Dakota Dept. of Transportation. But it is something that the city needs to take a look at.”
In other business, the city council:
• Approved a Conditional Use Permit for Ray and Billie Jo Morken dba M & R Seed Cleaning/BBR RV Park for a home office located at 1004 4th Ave. SE.
• Approved a request from the American Legion Club to add off-sale of liquor to their liquor license.
• Approved a $2,000 Roughrider Fund grant to Badlands Occupational Testing for building improvements.
• Approved $5,000 in Community Enhancements grants to area organizations.
• Approved hiring Advanced Engineering to do complete design work for water and sewer improvements into new growth areas.
•Approved hiring a part-time office assistant for the police department.
• Approved the second reading of Ordinance #230 adding workforce housing to A-1 Agriculture District Conditional Uses.
• Approved the second reading of Ordinance #231 relating to subdivision regulations.
• Approved the first reading of an ordinance governing the use of storage containers in city limits.
• Approved a resolution recognizing City Government Week from April 4 to 8.
• Approved a special permit to Peggy Hellandsaas and D&M’s Office to serve alcohol at the Veterans Memorial Building for the Helandsaas/Fahrman wedding dance on June 18 from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.
• Approved the mayor’s appointment of Roger Maki to the Watford City Airport Authority.
• Approved the appointment of Curtis Moen as Building Inspector to June 30, 2012.
• Approved the appointment of Patricia Skoglund to the Safety Committee to June 30, 2012 and as Risk Management Officer to May 1, 2012.