Devils Lake studies feasibility of convention/wellness centerDevils Lake community leaders say the state’s 11th largest city should have its own wellness and convention center. “I think the time has come to work toward something like this,” Mayor Dick Johnson said. “We keep hearing — for years now — about how a community our size needs a facility such as that.”
By: By Kevin Bonham, Forum News Service, The Jamestown Sun
GRAND FORKS — Devils Lake community leaders say the state’s 11th largest city should have its own wellness and convention center.
“I think the time has come to work toward something like this,” Mayor Dick Johnson said. “We keep hearing — for years now — about how a community our size needs a facility such as that.”
The City Commission on Monday authorized a $25,000 study to assess the type, size and potential operation of such a facility. The study cost will be split by Forward Devils Lake, the city’s economic development organization, and by the Devils Lake Chamber of Commerce’s tourism committee.
Devils Lake, a city of 7,141, is about 90 miles west of Grand Forks.
ICON Architectural Group in Grand Forks has been hired to conduct the study, which could take five or six weeks. The study will consider factors such as size, types of operation and potential management of such a facility.
One possibility is a wellness and convention center that could accommodate groups of 300 to 500.
It also could be a free-standing building, built on the east end of Devils Lake, near the planned location of a Walmart Supercenter, a 120,000-square-foot facility.
The mayor said developers have expressed interest in building another motel or hotel in Devils Lake, adding that a convention center-hotel complex could serve as a small-scale version of the Alerus Center-Canad Inn in Grand Forks.
Once the study is completed, city leaders will develop a proposal to present to the community, the mayor said.
“The key part of this is that it has to include something for the community, a wellness or fitness center,” he said, adding that some sort of public financing probably would be necessary.
Devils Lake has had preliminary discussions of other convention center ideas in the past decade, including the possible use of a portion of the campuses of the North Dakota School for the Deaf or Lake Region State College.
However, the community’s attention has been commanded instead by a 2-decade-old Devils Lake Basin flood fight that has cost about $1.5 billion, the mayor said.
The final pieces of the flood protection infrastructure are nearing completion.
“We’ve been through some tough times with the flood, but business is good,” the mayor said. “Tourism is growing. Devils Lake is growing. It seems the opportunity is there.”