Grand Forks city leaders want to use a million-dollar art project to boost the local economy

GRAND FORKS, ND - A million dollar light project could soon light up streets in Grand Forks.


It's all part of a push to build the local economy using art.


Outside the Alerus Center on 42nd Street is where some unique lights could soon be installed. it's all part of a project by the public arts commission to change the face of streets in Grand Forks.


The night sky could soon be brighter.


"I think that would be really pretty. I think they should definitely go forward from that,” said resident, Lindsey Liljanquist.


As a themed light zone could be the newest spot to take pictures.

On game days -- the 16 foot tall poles could light up green for the Hawks.


"It'd just give us a better view of the city,” said Liljanquist.


And -- downtown buildings could see a new coat of paint over blank bricks.


"I guess I have kind of mixed feelings about it. I think it might kind of ruin some of the town that has some of the natural history already,” said Liljanquist.


The commission has already found an artist from San Francisco willing to paint the bricks above town square park -- and at the Empire Arts Center.


But it won't come cheap.


The public arts commission wants to spend about $1.2 million dollars on the project.


"That seems a little spendy for artwork,” said Liljanquist.


Tax payers could be on the hook for much less.  


"We're probably looking in for our part it's probably in the tens of thousands,” said City Administrator, Todd Feland.


The commission plans to ask donors to cover the rest.


"What they're going to start moving forward with is a private sector funding campaign,:” said Feland.


City leaders call it a plan to use art and culture to drive our economy.


"Let's bring our community to a new level with art and culture. And hopefully that'll be a driver for our local economy,” said Feland.


Local people hope the lights will brighter our winter nights.  


"It's pretty important to me. It gives Grand Forks a nice look,” said Liljanquist.


Work could start as early as this summer and wrap up by the end of the year.


We reached out to the Public Arts Commission but they have not returned our calls.


Existing art around town would still be in the same spot -- this plan is just to add new touches to the town.