No black dirt sale

Wahpeton’s city council did not vote on a proposal to sell the city’s surplus black dirt for $10 a yard. The council also unanimously approved several other motions.

Should Wahpeton sell its stockpile of black dirt for $10 per yard?

Discussion during a Monday, June 3 city council meeting indicated limited support for the idea. Because of this, interest in a legal notice for the sale appeared to have died from lack of approval.

“That dirt, it is like gold,” said 3rd Ward Councilman Brett Lambrecht. “Why wouldn’t we save it and use it for our own needs instead of giving it away?”

The black dirt is currently held north of Wahpeton’s wastewater lagoon. Should the $10 per yard price have been approved, a customer would be required to purchase at least 50 yards of dirt.

“We can certainly save some dirt for our own use. I believe we’ve got another pile of pretty decent material,” Wahpeton Mayor Steve Dale said.

Mayor Dale estimated Wahpeton currently holds 77,700 cubic yards of black dirt, which he based on the size of wastewater pond no. 5. That figure was questioned by Jerry Meide, Wahpeton, who attended the meeting.

Saying the city should keep the black dirt, Meide estimated the actual amount was less than one-third of Dale’s estimate.

“It makes no difference to me,” Dale said. “We can let it sit there for 100 years. There’s an opportunity there. There could be $770,000 worth of dirt that we can sell.”

The dirt, according to Dale, has been stockpiled for approximately 28 years. Public Works Director Dennis Miranowski confirmed its quality.

“We don’t have to sell it now, but we’ve got the option,” 1st Ward Councilman Rory McCann said.

Following discussion, Dale did not ask for a motion. The proposal previously received 2-1 approval from the Public Works and Safety Committee. Lambrecht voted in opposition, while 4th Ward Councilman Don Bajumpaa was absent.

While the black dirt motion apparently died, several other motions were unanimously approved. One set the funding formula for a 2021 Safe Routes to School project.

An 8-0 vote approved the allocation of $127,700 from the sales tax for recreation fund and acceptance of $105,569 in grant funds. The project will provide improvements for an 11th Street North crosswalk.

Mayor Dale granted several referral requests. Committees will review:

• a proposed partnership with Richland County, North Dakota, to promote and ensure high turnout for the 2020 United States Census

• recommendations from the city’s latest housing study, completed in December 2017

• the application for this year’s sealcoating project

• Wahpeton’s current dumpster ordinance

With an 8-0 vote, council approved Farmers Union Oil of Southern Valley proceeding with a Renaissance Zone project. The approval is pending Farmers Union’s imminent receiving of taxpayer in good standing certification from the state of North Dakota.

The Cenex gas station and convenience store, located at 2019 Ninth St. N., Wahpeton, will receive extensive renovations and expansion. The project is expected to cost $2.2 million, Community Development Director Chris DeVries said.

“They’ll keep the restaurant (Hills 210 Cafe & Subs),” DeVries said. “Hills doesn’t have to worry about that.”

“Summer Sizzle,” a three-band concert which continued Wahpeton’s year-round 150th anniversary celebration, was held Saturday, June 1.

“It was an absolutely terrific event,” DeVries said. “I saw a lot of people having a great time.”

Jane Priebe, a sesquicentennial organizer, announced an upcoming downtown event.

Beginning at 12 p.m. Friday, June 14, Volunteer Park will hold this year’s Flag Day observance. The park, located at the banks of the Red River of the North, is expected to have a display of 150 flags. They will spell out “150,” Priebe said.

The flags are expected to be on display as soon as Sunday, June 9. National Flag Week, where Americans are asked to fly their flags at their homes and businesses, will be observed through Saturday, June 15.

Darby Casper, Wahpeton, attended her second straight council meeting. In May, Casper asked the council about everything from how streets would be improved to oversight of the city’s gateway monuments project.

Casper was not on Monday’s meeting agenda and ultimately did not speak that evening. She indicated she’ll make sure to be on subsequent agendas.

“We owe it to our people to let them speak,” Councilman-at-large Perry Miller said following the meeting. “It’s why we’re here. At least give her a few minutes to ask questions and give comments, even if she’s not on the agenda.”

The next city council meeting will be held at 5 p.m. Monday, June 17 at City Hall, 1900 Fourth St. N. in Wahpeton.

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