Build a foundation for growthNorth Dakota communities sitting on the edge of an expanding Bakken oil play can see trouble coming — in the form of pressure on their water and sewer systems, law enforcement, planning and zoning and other key local services. What’s a town to do?
By: The Bismarck Tribune, The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota communities sitting on the edge of an expanding Bakken oil play can see trouble coming — in the form of pressure on their water and sewer systems, law enforcement, planning and zoning and other key local services. What’s a town to do?
The North Dakota State University Extension Service has set up meetings at which veteran city and county officials from the oil patch offer perspective and advice to city and county officials on the verge of extreme development. It’s a practical and smart move by the Extension Service.
And pre-oil development towns are taking advantage of the opportunity — 300 people showed up for the meeting in Glen Ullin recently. Typically, a couple of dozen people show up at most public meetings. The oil boom has the attention of those in its way.
The message was pretty clear: Get your planning process in order. Figure out where it makes the most sense for your community to grow. Be ready to beef up planning and inspection staffs. Watch out for debt.
Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford and McKenzie County Economic Development Director Gene Veeder couldn’t make the Glen Ullin meeting. But they sent along a “10 Commandments” for dealing with oil impact — stuff that they wished they would have remembered from earlier booms. It, too, stressed planning, and strategies for permanent growth.
City and county officials in southwest and south central North Dakota got an ear full. And it was the kind of practical, nuts-and-bolts stuff they needed to hear.
On a second front, Gov. Jack Dalrymple is herding representatives from key state agencies to a series of meetings in western North Dakota tied to infrastructure development plans. Rather than hunkering down in Bismarck, the capital crew will be in New Town, Watford City, Killdeer, Dickinson, New England and Bowman.
The idea is for state agencies to hear firsthand the challenges faced by local government in the Oil Patch. The Legislature generously appropriated funds for improving infrastructure in western North Dakota, but the problems there go well beyond roads and bridges.
To a degree, this is an opportunity for key state officials to see the challenges for themselves. It’s worth the time and effort.
Over and over, we hear local and state officials are playing catch-up with oil development. Outreach like the meetings facilitated by the governor and the Extension Service are practical means for defining the challenges and marshaling resources.
They are solid steps toward getting up to date.