The year 2019 has been a historic and memorable one for the City of Fargo. It saw explosive growth with the opening of several new facilities. This year also saw the strength of our community on display, as thousands of volunteers rose to the challenge of preparing for a spring flood. There were many highlights and noteworthy firsts across Fargo this year, and we’d like to share a few with you:
The Fargo Police Department opened doors on a new headquarters, with Fargo’s finest now calling 105 25th Street North home. The move helps consolidate the various divisions of the department into one single location. This unification of the police force simplifies communications between divisions and, in turn, helps officers provide better streetlevel protection to Fargo’s residents and visitors.
Fargo City Hall held its first meeting in the new Commission Chambers in February. The space has ample room to meet a variety of needs, including seating for more than 200 people. It also marks the implementation of region-leading audiovisual equipment, including upgraded speakers, portable microphones and studio lighting. Public meetings are now hosted with crystal-clear audio and acoustics. The Chambers also feature eight 4K cameras, meaning any of the dozens of meetings the City hosts look just as crisp for viewers at home as those physically in City Hall.
City Hall also enjoyed its first “birthday” in 2019. The central hub for City activity has seen thousands of visitors in the past year. It has become even easier to access with the installation of a brand-new parking lot for public use just west of the main building off of 3rd Avenue North.
The City Hall’s south parking lot became a part-time food court over the summer, as Fargo Cass Public Health’s Environmental Health Division enacted a Food Truck Pilot Program. The program provided space in the lot to be used as designated food truck space on Friday afternoons. The program considered public interest, as well as the efficacy of having designated spaces for food trucks. Several local food trucks partook in the pilot program.
Phase I of the Fargo Civic Plaza was constructed following City Commission approval and unveiled in October of this year. The plaza’s opening also marked the triumphant return of the longtime Fargo public art staple, the Sodbuster statue. The space was designed to provide a modern and practical use for the area between the Main Library and Civic Center. The Plaza space, which sits just north of the Main Library, features walking paths inspired by the natural textures and riparian forests of Fargo’s surrounding landscape.
The City also introduced new technology to make it even easier for contractors and residents to receive permits for projects, ranging from building a deck to adding a garage onto a home. The Fargo Inspections Department unveiled its new permit portal, which allows the public to apply for a permit remotely without ever requiring a visit to City Hall. The new software also allows for submissions 24 hours a day, every day of the year. The update is a massive step forward for the convenience of residents.
Fargo’s excellence caught some outside attention this year. A national ranking service, “WalletHub,” conducted a study of the best run cities in the U.S. Fargo ranked in the top ten and scored especially high in the Quality of City Services category, being recognized as the sixth best in the entire United States. Fargo excelled in multiple other categories, earning top ten distinctions for its educational opportunities and its economy. Also in 2019, WalletHub named Fargo one of the six happiest cities to live in America.
The FARGODOME hosted several blockbuster concerts this past year– including a raucous, high-flying sold-out performance from the eclectic singer P!NK and an incredible show from Celine Dion. Next year is slated to be amazing as well, with music legends Cher and Elton John scheduled to hit the stage in 2020.
The Fargo Water Treatment Plant opened its expanded campus in mid-2019. The upgraded facility further enhances the original treatment plant, and provides the community’s residents with consistently high-quality water. You’re encouraged to read more in the “Your Tip Top Tap” article within this issue of FARGO Monthly.
The Wastewater Treatment Plant has great things on the horizon as well. Bids will be opened early next year to begin the final construction phases of a plant expansion. The expanded wastewater plant is expected to be operational by 2022. These improvements will double the utility’s capacity and make it the largest in the state.
Residents ask, and Fargo continues to answer the call. The Public Works Department is conducting a snow gate feasibility study. It’s the first step in potentially adding snow gates to its fleet of plow trucks, which could mean the end of hardened snow ridges at the end of homeowner’s driveways.
In an effort to address workforce challenges, the Transit Department established MATBUS service to the Industrial Park. The new industrial route eliminates a potential barrier for up to 19,000 employees in the park by providing consistent, reliable transportation. This also aides the development of a dependable workforce for the employers of the Industrial Park.
The City of Fargo has developed a clear vision to maintain its position as the regional leader in 2020, with several major upcoming initiatives.
The 2020 budget calls for increased investment in public safety, with four new street-level police officers approved to join the ranks. This represents a substantial commitment to the safety of Fargo’s residents and visitors.
The City unveiled a new advertising campaign: “We Work For You.” The campaign highlights the diverse skills and excellent work of employees across the entire organization. You may have even seen the ads featured in Fargo Monthly in 2019.
The Fargo City Commission recently took action to implement a new Infrastructure Funding Policy beginning in 2020. For many property owners, this means special assessments will be reduced, with the City covering a greater percentage of the overall cost on many projects. The new funding policy also supports a four-year Capital Improvements Plan, meaning Fargo is well prepared to continue growing and maintaining excellence.
The Planning and Development Department has been hard at work developing a Core Neighborhoods Plan. This plan will ensure the City is acting in the best interest of neighborhoods, which truly comprise the backbone of our community.
Fargo will see its first usage of the approval voting system in June when two City Commission seats are on the ballot. Elections are an excellent opportunity for residents to make their voices heard and to be involved in the process of selecting leaders for the community.
We hope your 2019 was great and your outlook for next year is optimistic. On behalf of the City, thanks to our residents and visitors for being a vital facet of what makes Fargo far more.