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West Fargo Building Committee explores city needs

Committee will meet regularly to form a recomendation for the City Commission on the nees of City Hall and the police headquaters

West Fargo city hall
West Fargo City Hall and police station
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WEST FARGO — A building commitee formed at the direction of the West Fargo City Commission held its first meeting to begin exploring if the city will build a new city hall or police headquarters in the near future to accommodate growth of city staff.

The committee is comprised of Commissioners Brad Olson and Mandy George along with Assistant City Administrator Dustin Scott, Assistant Police Chief Pete Nielsen, other city staff members and consultants including those from RLE, which studied the current City Hall and police headquaters at 800 4th Ave. S.

In July, RLE representatives told the City Commission that the building first built in 1974 is in "OK shape." While the building was first used as City Hall and the West Fargo Library, it has underwent a number of remodels and expansions including the most recent upgrade of City Hall and the police hadquaters in 2015.

A major concern has been the building's ventilation system that some have said is not working well.

"You can walk from one end of city to this end and you feel the humidity and temperature change," Commissioner Brad Olson said.

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Kim Manuel, principal with RLE Architects said the City Hall staffing will grow by 40% through 2032 and police department is going to grow by 20%. City Hall would need about 28% more space and the police department would need more than 50% more space.

"That equates to about 30,000 square feet between the two departments," Manuel said.

Mark Thiede, project manager for RLE Architects said the city needs about 40 percent more space for more fulltime employees and 20 percent more space for police department.

Olson said the committee will need to estimate the needs of the city in the next 20 to 50 years.

"We've pretty much concluded this site, where we are today would not hold for 10 years, for city and police," Olson said. "In 20 years, we doubled in size. Certainly in 40 years, we could double again. That whole northwest quadrant up there could house a city equal to Grand Forks," Olson said.

RLE staff recommend separating the municipal court from City Hall and said the court should probably stay with the police department at whatever location that would be.

The consultants also looked at site possibilities for new buildings. One option is to simply relocate the entire facility somewhere else.
Another alternative would be to relocate city hall somewhere north, perhaps in the downtown district and relocate the police headquarters south of Interstate 94. Or, the city could leave the police headquarters where it is and relocated City Hall somewhere else.

The city could also remodel the current building to fit the needs of the city. RLE presented a possible design that would move the municipal court to its own space and enlarge the area for court. Nearby spaces would be used for the municipal judge and clerks. In the design, the current commission chambers would be remodeled to police lockers and space and moved to another area.

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Commissioner Mandy George said she's a strong proponent of placing a city hall and or police headquarters near Sheyenne Street and Main Avenue, near The Yards, West Fargo's downtown.

The committee plans to meet again at 1 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 8 and will be holding a series of meetings over the next few weeks in hopes of bringing a recommendation to the City Commission before the end of the year.

"We're still really honing in on the scope here," Scott said.

READ MORE FROM WEST FARGO EDITOR WENDY REUER
WEST FARGO — After seeing a dramatic increase in premium costs year after year, West Fargo Public Schools plans to change its health insurance plans in order to spend less money on the benefit and invest more into staff salaries.

Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

As the West Fargo editor, Wendy Reuer covers all things West Fargo for The Forum and oversees the production of the weekly Pioneer.
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