Grand Forks City Council members briefed on Gate City Bank Home Improvement Partnership Loan Program

Mar. 6—GRAND FORKS — City Council members were briefed Monday by Gate City Bank on the Home Improvement Partnership Loan Program.

Andrew Conlon, a senior community development planner with the city, said the program provides funds for qualifying homeowners to make improvements to their properties. Some of the criteria to qualify for the program are that the assessed value of a house needs to be $275,000 or less and everything will need to be zoned appropriately, as well as other credit-related prerequisites. The interest rates for the program this year range from 3% to 3.5%

Projects can be related to interior and exterior work, including roof repairs and house additions.

Becky Mindeman, senior vice president of retail banking with Gate City Bank, said the cornerstone of the bank’s mission is to serve the customers and community to create a better way of life.

“The Home Improvement Partnership that we have with the city really does that,” Mindeman said. “It’s a series of programs designed to work together to include neighborhood quality of life and encourage investment in the city’s existing neighborhoods.”

Mindeman said Gate City Bank has been involved in the program throughout various communities in North Dakota and central Minnesota since 2005. The Home Improvement Partnership was created to encourage the preservation of homes.

“We get to help create a better way of life for friends and neighbors in Grand Forks,” Mindeman said.

Also Monday, several residents addressed the council on the now stopped Fufeng corn mill project. Grand Forks resident Jason Patrick talked about an after-action review, which council member Ken Vein has suggested to consider lessons learned from the project and things the city could do better in the future. Patrick said the council should have those discussions during a public meeting and not in private.

“… It’s actually imperative that it’s done and it’s imperative that the information gets out there and it isn’t necessarily done behind closed doors,” Patrick said. “It’s imperative that transparency in this is maintained. This serves not only to help restore trust and confidence with the electorate. … It’s also imperative that the process be documented and recorded to ensure that a thorough record of those lessons learned is available for those who come after you.”

Also during the public-input portion of the meeting, resident Alison Spicer questioned Major Brandon Bochenski on his collaboration with Gov. Doug Burgum’s chief of staff on requesting business visas for Fufeng Group representatives to travel to Grand Forks in 2021.

Grand Forks City Attorney Dan Gaustad briefed the council that he has had some discussion with Fufeng’s attorney on the termination of the development agreement, as well as what Fufeng plans to do with the approximately 300 acres it purchased to build the plant. Gaustad said discussions are ongoing and more updates will come later.

City Administrator Todd Feland said the council will receive information on what the Grand Forks Economic Development Corporation’s role is with the city and a planning and zoning briefing at next week’s Committee of the Whole meeting. Feland also informed council members that a petition has been filed for the deannexation of the Highway 81 area, which was annexed into the city

last june

. The petition is being reviewed by the city auditor and updates on it will be brought back to the council at a later date.

In other news Monday, council members:

* Approved a task order agreement with Bolten & Menk for engineering services not to exceed $76,936 for a safety study for Phoenix Elementary School. Funding will come from the Streets/Infrastructure Fund, through which $80,000 has been budgeted for transportation studies.

* Approved the plans and specifications for annual maintenance projects on asphalt streets. The estimated amount for this project is $50,000, with funding coming from the city’s Street/ Infrastructure Fund 4815.

* Approved an agreement with Interstate Engineering for design engineering services in the amount of $310,000 for a Columbia Road overpass rehabilitation project. Funding for the local share of the project will come from the city’s Street/Infrastructure Fund 4815, where $500,000 has been budgeted for this year.

* Approved plans and specifications along with revised engineer reports for a sanitary sewer, watermain, storm sewer and paving and street lights for the Grand Valley First Addition on the city’s southern end.