Friday, October 21, 2005

Good letter about UND neighborhood woes

Today's Herald has a letter from a Mr. Gordon Iseminger that I found particularly interesting. I watched the council meeting on Sept. 19 that Iseminger attended to urge the city council to move forward with enforcing/enacting stricter regulations in regards to rental property. He has some very good comments in this letter. Although I, myself, am a UND student, I think I can understand how sad and "dispiriting" it must be to have your neighborhood turn from Norman Rockwell into Animal House. Some students think they can behave however they want to now that they are out of "Mom and Dad's house", but their actions often speak more to their immaturity than to any shred of adulthood. It is immature to think that you and your friends can take over an entire city street or city neighborhood for seemingly endless parties. It is also immature to think that parking cars in front yards or having upwards of a dozen people living in one small house is acceptable. Likewise, it is simply pure laziness on the part of the city council that this keeps getting put off again and again.

To offending students: grow up. To the city council: wake up.


In an article in today's Fargo Forum, NDSU's President Chapman is quoted as stating that his university's economic impact on the state's economy has been $1.3 billion dollars in the past six years (aka during the Chapman administration). Sounds like a ton of money, huh? Well, just two days before Chapman's "State of NDSU" speech, UND President Kupchella delivered his very own "State of UND" speech. He stated that the economic impact of UND is roughly $1 billion...a year. Yep, NDSU has generated an impact of $1.3 billion over the past six years and UND has generated an impact of $1 billion in just the past year. You do the math. Seems to me like it is pretty clear which campus has (by far) the biggest impact on the state. North Dakota is very lucky to have UND in its borders.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The Dullum File blog

The other evening, WDAZ mentioned that Terry Dullum has just gotten his very own blog. I've enjoyed watching The Dullum File over the years and Terry can be kind of funny. Looks like his blog is going to include interesting ancedotes from his career. An interesting bit of info: Terry grew up in the same small Red River Valley town that my mother lived in and they both went to school at the same time.

So, Terry, I look forward to reading your new blog. Maybe you'll read mine too every once in a while? I could use at least one occasional reader!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Uptown/Downtown issue

I, for one, was apalled when I saw the report on WDAZ about a month ago showing just what has really been going on in the Uptown/Downtown bar in downtown Grand Forks. Since when has a skanky woman crawling across the floor of a bar to recieve a tip in her mouth something that happens in Grand Forks? It's not only's just not the Grand Forks that I have known for my whole life.

I was a bit shocked when I heard on WDAZ a couple of weeks after the initial report aired that the city hadn't received ANY complaints about the matter. Somehow I didn't quite believe this. If it really was the the case, I was mad at all of us (me included) who dislike the Uptown/Downtown, but hadn't taken the time to complain to the city about the issue. I know for a fact that many people in town share my feelings on the Uptown/Downtown, but none of us had bothered to do anything with our displeasure. I guess it just shows you not only how lazy we can be, but how we also expect others to do our dirty work in politics while we sit back and rest.

I quickly fired off a lengthy and decently argued complaint email to all of the city council members and Mayor Brown. I assumed that they would at least all drop me a reply email thanking me for my comments. Guess what, the ONE AND ONLY person who bothered to respond to me was councilman Hamerlik. Either no one else thought they had the spare ten seconds needed to acknowledge my concerns, or something a little more depressing is going on. The councilmembers may act all upset about the Uptown/Downtown when they are in front of the cameras, but I feel that their displeasure with the glorified strip club (they even have poles!) is a bit more laid back and histrionic than I would prefer. I worry about two things here. First, that they (the city and councilmembers) might not have the initiative to go after the bar. Second, that they (the city and councilmembers) don't WANT to go after the bar. They might not want to "mess" with the operations of a "small business."

Whatever the reason for their lack of movement on the issue, one thing is clear to me. Everyone who is upset with the Uptown/Downtown and the negative face it puts on downtown Grand Forks NEEDS to contact the mayor and councilmembers. It seemed to be very easy for them to ignore my concerns, but I was just one voice. If we could even get a dozen complaints sent out to them, we would be making a much more effective statement. Please contact them by email, snail-mail, phone, or whatever means necessary! Click here to find out Mayor Brown's contact info or here to contact the city council members.

Monday, October 17, 2005

BREAKING NEWS: Columbia Mall has actually found food court tenants!

Well, it looks like Columbia Mall's new food court isn't going to be empty after all. The owners of the mall have been scrambling to find tenants for the hard-to-fill development. They must have lowered the asking price for rent or something, because they have just signed four vendors. They are:

Mrs. Fields Cookies
Magic Chopstix
(don't ask me...I've never heard of it either)

I'm so excited! Columbia Mall is going to have a food court AND a Macy's!!!!

I'm happy to say that my earlier post (where I expressed my lament that the food court might not have any tenants at all for quite some time) has been proven wrong! Now if we would just hear something about that new movie theater...

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Snow Days?

How is it possible that I have gone to UND since the Fall 2000 semester (don't say one finishes in four years anymore!) and there has only been one snow day during that entire period? And the sad thing: that one time wasn't even a whole was a half a day! I'm not saying that last night's blizzard really warranted shutting down the university today. However, the sudden and suprising brush with winter reminded me of just how much fun it can be walking across campus in a blizzard or, at least, near-blizzard. UND basically NEVER shuts down. Maybe that is a good thing. Perhaps it shows their devotion to teaching students no matter what is going on outside. But wouldn't it be nice to give us "kids" a day off now and then? Please??!!??!

Meet me at Columbia Mall (just not at the food court)

The Herald reported this past Saturday that Columbia Mall's new food court (dubbed "Dakota Cafe") is "on its way to completion." The truth is that construction wrapped up a month or two ago and the food court has been finished for quite some time. Everything is in place for an opening except for one thing: restaurants. The sad fact is that Columbia Mall - once a bustling space filled with shoppers and stores - has lost so much of its vitality that it has found it almost impossible to attract even one or two restaurants to its shiny new food court.

If you have visited Columbia Mall recently, you have seen the plywood walls encasing the food court. You can look through those little windows in the plywood to check up on "construction." Of course, construction of the food court itself is actually finished. My guess is that we are supposed to think that construction workers are busy building restaurants behind the black plastic curtains that hang from the food court's back walls. That's what I naively thought. Then, about a month ago, I found that you could look into the food court from an entirely different side that is accessible from the new restroom/customer service area. Here, you come right up to the plastic curtains hiding "construction." I sneaked a peak behind the curtains to see how construction was going. Guess what...there was nothing at all happening. Nothing. No construction of even one restaurant.

I soon found out, through several sources familiar with Columbia Mall, that the mall hasn't found any food vendors who are willing to locate in Dakota Cafe. Apparently, they see the quiet corridors and stores in the mall and foresee only quiet restaurants if they locate in the food court. I really can't blame them. It seems unlikely that the mall will be able to attract enough people to the food court to make it profitable for chains to set up shop there.

Dakota Cafe is equipped to handle eight vendors, but it looks like the mall will be lucky if it is even able to locate a couple of establishments in the space any time soon. The new owners of the mall, GK Development of Barrington, Illinois, had high hopes when they purchased the mall a while back. In addition to the food court, an announcement was made that Wallace Theaters would be building a multiplex in the former Target space. The multiplex is now a dead issue and it is looking more and more like the food court will be a least for the time being.

I was very excited when the new owners took over the mall. I thought that the old owners had been neglectful and that they had become "bored" with the mall. GK Development was supposed to pump new life into Columbia Mall. Instead, the mall is still extremely quiet and hasn't seen many new stores open up. About the only visible changes that GK has made have been the addition of new vending machines and tacky kiosks that "junk up" and clutter the corridors.

My feeling is that the food court will NOT be successful during this ongoing slump that the mall is in. If the multiplex had actually been built, perhaps there would have been enough new traffic in the mall for the theater and food court to feed off of each other. This could have brought more shoppers to the currently very quiet stores. Unfortunately, until either the theater is built or something else (another department store?) takes over the old Target space, I can't see Columbia Mall attracting many more customers than it currently does. The explosive growth of big box stores along 32nd Avenue will only continue to signal the end of the mall's heyday. I would love to see things differently. Columbia Mall used to seem so busy and exciting when I was a kid. Who knows...maybe it will still feel that way again someday.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


I'm glad to see that you found me here! This is my new blog all about life in Grand Forks. There is more to Grand Forks news than just the Herald. I intend to publish stories here that you won't find anywhere else. I may be a bit more gossipy than the more established media outlets. However, if I post something here, I do have some source or basis for the information that I provide. Also, in addition to just reporting the news as I see it, I will be posting quite a few of my own opinions about Grand Forks issues. I look forward to seeing you around here!