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West Fargo drafts a needs assessment to assist with future planning

At a recent West Fargo City Commission meeting, Planning Director Aaron Nelson presented a draft city needs assessment to identify what the city's priorities are when it comes to working with the West Fargo 2.0 plan.

Sheyenne Street West Fargo.JPG
An aerial view of West Fargo's Sheyenne Street. Special to the Pioneer.
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WEST FARGO — Planners in West Fargo are preparing for future growth by considering what the city's vision and future policies should be.

At a recent West Fargo City Commission meeting, Planning Director Aaron Nelson presented a draft city needs assessment to identify what the city's priorities are when it comes to working with the West Fargo 2.0 plan. The West Fargo 2.0 plan was created in 2018 when the city hired consultants to work with residents to identify what its future should include, such as downtown development, lagoon decommissioning, and potential growth areas.

"These might be things that were identified at a high level by the West Fargo 2.0 plan, or they may be items that need additional information, or a deeper dive," Nelson said of the needs assessment.

The needs assessment identified five topics that are of high importance and high urgency to the city which include:

  • Lagoon strategy
  • Title IV zoning text amendments
  • Downtown master plan and update parking strategy
  • Economic development strategy
  • Core infrastructure rehabilitation

Mayor Bernie Dardis said he particularly liked how the items are categorized as high, mid or low priority.
"We can move them around as it is seen by the commission or staff," Dardis said.

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Nelson said the needs assessment summarizes the process and identifies the planning needs and rationale the city can use, but it does not establish timeline, roles, resources or anticipated funding sources. Those will come later as part of an action plan, which the West Fargo City Commission would need to approve at a later date.

"I was pretty excited when I was reading this," Commissioner Mandy George said. "It hits the nail on the head for what's good for the city."

As part of the needs assessment, the city worked with a consultant to gather feedback from department heads and senior staff members along with appointed and elected officials.

Nelson asked the city to consider additional needs for downtown, which is now called The Yards on Sheyenne.

"The last time the downtown was looked at in great detail was roughly 12 years ago with the Sheyenne and Main Street plan," Nelson said.

The needs assessment also looked at other areas that may need a focus in the future, such as the need for an overall growth plan that could attract commercial business to the downtown area and the 32nd Avenue West corridor near The Lights complex.

"Now development is piecemeal, as a developer comes forward, without regard to neighborhoods and what the community needs besides tax dollars," the assessment said.

Nelson added the city wants to look at areas of growth that are outside the city limits at this time.

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The needs assessment also considers the present time as "a great opportunity to plan for the northern growth area with the Fargo-Moorhead Area Diversion becoming a reality in the next five years."

"West Fargo has an opportunity to master plan its future to the north, but we need to start now," the assessment said. "Main Avenue and the connecting roads north to 12th Avenue need sidewalks and multi-use paths that connect these roads to currently isolated neighborhoods north of Main Avenue."

There are north south multi-use paths connecting Main and 12th Avenue that are currently under contract with Houston Engineering in the area of Ninth Street Northeast, Nelson added.

"I like that it can be a guiding path for the city. I really like this," Commissioner Roben Anderson said.

Any additional plans that stem from the needs assessment would come before the city commission at a later date.

READ MORE FROM WEST FARGO EDITOR WENDY REUER
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Readers can reach West Fargo editor Wendy Reuer at wreuer@forumcomm.com or 701-241-5530 . Follow her on Twitter @ForumWendy .

Related Topics: WEST FARGO
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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