Commissioners Approve Civic Center Expansion | VideoJennifer Joas | 3/12/2013
The clock is ticking and construction season is short. That is what was running through the minds of Bismarck City Commissioners as they made a decision on expanding the civic center.
"I think we have to do our level best to ensure that we continue to meet the demand of Bismarck and in this region to host those meetings and those conventions in Bismarck," said Parrell Grossman, City Commissioner.
Commissioners discussed two very different proposals that were brought up during public input meetings. One was to annex land into the city from the north and build a brand new sports arena.
"Looking to the future and the possibilities of what we could need or want in a north location is very exciting," said Brenda Smith, City Commissioner.
The other proposal was to expand the current exhibit hall to meet the demand of conferences like the Williston Basin Petroleum Conference. Last year, it brought two million dollars in tax revenue into the community. Commissioners fear that because the space is maxed out, if they do not expand, they could lose large conferences like that one.
"Once it is gone, it is gone. And to get that back here, is extremely difficult," said Josh Askvig, City Commissioner.
So commissioners decided to go with the proposal to expand the Civic Center.
"We are not saying no to anything. What were saying yes to is securing the business that is so important to our community, moving forward with this clear and present need, and making sure that we take the time to evaluate some wonderful options that have been made available to us," said Mike Seminary, City Commissioner.
Commissioners will now move onto approving final construction costs and then start bidding out the expansion project.
Commissioners plan to create a task force to further study the options of building an additional center north of Bismarck. They believe it will ultimately come down to another public vote for additional taxes to fund the project.