Monday, December 31, 2007

Friday, December 28, 2007

Postcard: Deaconess Hospital

Deaconess Hospital

Here's another vintage Grand Forks postcard. As most of you probably already know, Altru Hospital wasn't the first hospital to be built in Grand Forks. Grand Forks used to have two hospitals: Deaconess Hospital and St. Michael's Hospital. Buildings that used to function as hospitals in Grand Forks include the current UND Medical School building, Riverside Manor just off of Gateway Drive, and the old Deaconess Hospital building across the street from the Grand Forks County Courthouse downtown.

The above postcard shows a mid-20th century view of Deaconess Hospital. The structure in this postcard still stands in the south part of downtown and is currently used for office space. The first Deaconess Hospital building was built in 1892 and was the first hospital constructed in Grand Forks. Over the years, Deaconess grew to include the structure pictured here.

St. Michael's Hospital was first located in the building currently called Riverside Manor north of downtown. St. Michael's later moved to a new hospital building just north of UND. In 1971, St. Michael's and Deaconess officially merged and became known as United Hospital, but continued to operate out of two separate buildings. A new, unified hospital - United Hospital - was later built at Medical Park on Columbia Road. The old Deaconess building became an office building and the old St. Michael's by UND became the home of the UND Medical School. United Hospital officially became known as Altru Hospital on July 1, 1997.

Click here and here for more historical information regarding Grand Forks hospitals.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

UND is planning for the future

I've recently mentioned the many changes that UND is facing in the present day and in the near future. As UND reaches its 125th birthday, the changes facing the athletic department are some of the most interesting: the "Fighting Sioux" debate and the possibility of a new nickname and logo, the move up to D-I in all sports, a new athletic director, and planning for future athletic facilities.

Now come impressive images of what might be in store for UND athletic facilities in the near future. Some of you have probably already seen these pictures, but I stillwanted to post them for those readers who have not had the chance. All of these images are from JLG Architects.

Currently, there appear to be two major plans on the table. Both plans include moving UND football from the Alerus Center to a new stadium to be built on the grounds of the old Memorial Stadium. Both plans also call for the construction of a new on-campus indoor training facility featuring an indoor track, an outdoor track facility, multiple skyways, and a second parking garage.

Plan #1 - outdoor football stadium

The first plan calls for the construction of an outdoor, horseshoe-shaped, football stadium that would retain the western facade of Memorial Stadium.






Plan #2 - retractable roof football stadium

The second plan calls for the construction of a 25,000 seat, retractable roof, football stadium with an indoor training facility built immediately to the east.



Now I'm interested to hear what my readers think of these plans. Are these pipe dreams or realistic plans? Do you think the renderings are attractive? Which plan do your favor? What do you think buildings like these would cost? What does this mean for the Alerus Center? I await your discussion!

Update - 12/30/2007 - 8:50 PM
The above site plan has been updated/corrected courtesy of the folks at JLG.

Update - 12/31/2007 - 8:23 PM
I asked JLG how an indoor training facility would fit in with the outdoor horseshoe concept and they informed me that the outdoor horseshoe concept (shown here as Plan #1) is "an earlier concept that is no longer a part of the plan." This was news to me. Why did the Herald print big pictures of an outdated plan? So I guess we're going with that retractable roof plan, huh? It is pretty cool...

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

New poll: city streets a winter wonderland?

The new poll question is "How would you grade the ongoing snow removal program in Grand Forks?" Cast your vote and then comment here.

Poll results: "Sioux" will become history

According to a recent poll conducted on this blog, most readers think the "Fighting Sioux" nickname and logo will eventually be retired.

When asked "Will UND end up retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo?", 79% (371) responded "yes" and just 19% (91) responded "no." (results)

I would really like to see some more discussion on this topic.

Selection
Votes
Yes 79%371
No 19%91
Unsure 2%10
472 votes total

Open Thread #57

Let 'er rip!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas from GrandForksGuy

Merry Christmas to all my friends and readers of GFL! My wish is that you are all able to share these days with those you love. May we all be like the reformed Ebeneezer Scrooge and keep Christmas in our hearts throughout the year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Open Thread #56

I realize that this blog has been on auto-pilot for the last month or so. Still, I've been happy to see you guys carry on the conversation while I have been preoccupied. Traffic has not decreased during my absence. I promise that things will be getting back to normal here after the holidays.

Now...since it's getting very close to the big day, why not share some memories of Christmas in Grand Forks?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Open Thread #55

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of the year, but it sure is also the most hectic!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Open Thread #54

I know, I know...this is coming a little late this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Friday, November 23, 2007

Hana Japanese Grill opens

As Herald reporter and fellow area blogger Ryan Schuster previously reported, there is a new dining option at the Columbia Mall's Dakota Cafe food court. Hana Japanese Grill opened earlier this month and serves Japanese food including sushi, chicken dishes, and seafood. It's owned by the same group that owns the Magic Chopstix location in the food court.

Has anyone tried out this new restaurant yet? If you have, please share your thoughts. Are we talking about a carbon copy of Magic Chopstix here or is this place unique?

I'm glad to see another restaurant open at the food court. What other types of restaurants would you like to see open up in the remaining spots?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Open Thread #52

It seems like all I ever do these days is work, work, work...not enough time for blogging! What plans do you have for Thanksgiving? Have you already started decorating for Christmas?

Monday, November 12, 2007

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Changes at UND

Face it...UND is the engine that drives Grand Forks. That engine has been undergoing a series of major changes lately. There are so many things going on at UND that it is almost hard to keep track of them all. A short review is in order...

President Charles Kupchella is leaving his post at the end of this school year and a nationwide search is being undertaken to find his successor.

The UND athletic programs are all being reclassified to NCAA Division I.

The UND/NCAA Fighting Sioux logo and nickname lawsuit was recently settled outside of court. Although UND has three years to gain tribal support for the nickname, I doubt most of us really think that will happen. I feel strongly that...for better or for worse...in a few years UND athletics will have a new nickname and logo.

The UND Athletic Director, Tom Buning, has resigned his post and a search will now have to be undertaken to find his successor. What should UND look for in a new AD? Clearly, a new AD would have many, many issues on his plate. Another issue facing UND athletics is facilities...a new football stadium is not out of the question for some time in the future.

NDSU has grown dramatically in recent years. This year, NDSU now has almost as many students as UND does...the two campuses have never been so close in this critical number. Will NDSU grow larger than UND or will UND soon experience another growth spurt? UND was founded as and has remained as the flagship university in the state...would a larger NDSU hurt UND's prestige?

Universities...and UND in particular...are no longer exclusively educational endeavors. While UND still exists primarily to educate, it has also been experiencing dramatic growth in research projects. Also, fundraising has become a major issue facing UND. For instance, a campaign will soon be launched to increase UND's endowment to $500 million...a seemingly astronomical sum.

Clearly this is a time of change...major change...at UND. I'm sure I'm leaving out other ongoing and upcoming changes. I'm curious how you think UND will pass through this era. Will a better campus emerge? What would you like to see in a new UND President? Will education start to take a backseat to research and fundraising? What will UND be 5 years from now? How about 15 or 30 years from now? The UND of the future is being shaped today and I'm curious what you think that UND will be like.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Thursday, November 01, 2007

I Love Grand Forks #2

"I Love Grand Forks" is going to become a monthly tradition on GFL. There's lots to love in this city and I love reading through everyone's reasons. Name a few of the reasons why you love Grand Forks.

New GFHPC website

The Grand Forks Historic Preservation Commission has a brand new website. It's great to see decent looking local government websites...the same can't really be said for most of our local government sites.

I like the fact that local history - something which is very important to me - now has a presence on the web. I would like to see more historic images and some more informative text added, but good start.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

What will you be doing this Halloween?

I'll be handing out candy to the half a dozen kids that make their way to my home. We used to get more trick or treaters, but the numbers have really dropped off in the last few years.

Whatever you do, please stay safe and keep the holiday fun for all.

Update - 11/1/2007 - 12:29 AM
Guess what...I didn't have ANY trick or treaters tonight. Pathetic! I suppose it didn't help that my house appeared to be the only one on the whole street that was giving out candy...bunch of cheapskates. Oh well, I hope the kids had fun at the Alerus Center. Still, nothing can quite compare to going trick or treating door to door...those were the days, huh?

UND/NCAA settlement

I haven't blogged about the UND/NCAA settlement yet. I know that the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo brings out very, very strong opinions on both sides of the debate. I wonder how you, the readers of GFL, are responding to this settlement?

Here's a brief synopsis of what the settlement outlines. UND will have three years to gain acceptance among the state's Sioux tribes for the continued use of the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo. If, at the end of those three years, that acceptance has not come through, UND will retire its current nickname and logo and a new one will be chosen.

Do you think UND will be able to convince the state's Sioux tribes that the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo are neither hostile nor abusive? How do you think the tribes should fairly decide whether or not to accept the logo? What do you think about each tribe allowing each enrolled member to vote on the issue? If the current logo and nickname are retired, what do you think the UND athletic teams should be called? Would a new nickname and logo decrease or increase your level of interest and/or support for the UND teams?

I haven't personally discussed the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo on this blog to a great degree. I have made it clear that I am a supporter of the nickname and logo and that I do not find them hostile or abusive, but I have not exaggerated on my opinions.

My thoughts on the Fighting Sioux have evolved over the years. When I first went to UND, I was a supporter of the name and logo. Then, the proselytizing of one too many enlightened professors briefly convinced me that the name was bad and had to go. Now, I am back to being a strong believer that there is nothing inherently wrong with the nickname and logo and that it is used respectfully and should only serve to bring pride to the state's native people.

However, even though I remain a supporter of the Fighting Sioux, I have been growing weary of the fight as of late. UND does so many good things for so many people...notably for the state's native people...but the Fighting Sioux debate has become an undeserved burden for us. I believe that there is nothing wrong with the nickname and logo, but the fact that this debate has raged on for so long has given UND a black eye that distracts from all the good that the state's oldest and largest educational institution does. I will always be a supporter of the Fighting Sioux, but this debate must come to a conclusion soon. The finality of this settlement should ultimately put an end to this debate. UND encompasses so many things for so many people...we will be no less of a university if we must ultimately change our athletic nickname and put an end to the undeserved negativity that has been hurled at our campus.

Restaurant news

Two interesting tidbits from our city's restaurant scene...

A tipster informs me that Hooters is currently scouting for a location in the city of Grand Forks. This rumor has been circulated before, but my source has shed light on the company's attempts to find an appropriate location for the "delightfully tacky, yet unrefined" restaurant. According to my tipster, Hooters wanted to build on the empty lot in front of Kohls (at the intersection of 32nd Ave. S. and S. 34th St.), but the department store did not want that type of restaurant in that spot. I'm not entirely sure if that means that this lot is owned by Kohls. Now, Hooters is apparently trying to find a more appropriate location for their new restaurant. Any ideas where a more appropriate spot for a Hooters might be?

Also in local restaurant news, it looks like Grand Forks may soon be down to just one Arby's location. The Columbia Road location, which is the older of the city's two Arby's, is currently listed for sale. I assume that means that this building will no longer house an Arby's. If that is the case, this would make the 32nd Avenue location the only Arby's in town.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New poll: Fighting Sioux retirement?

Time for a new poll. The new question is "Will UND end up retiring the Fighting Sioux nickname and logo?" I await your answers. Happy voting.

Poll results: another grocer for Leevers

Time to close the old poll question "What do you think should happen to the old Leevers building?" Click here to view the results.

Selection
Votes
Another grocer 44%42
A large retailer 20%19
Strip mall 17%16
Other (discuss) 20%19
96 votes total

Monday, October 29, 2007

Open Thread #49

I apologize for neglecting this blog over the last few days. It's been a very busy and stressful week for me. For now, here's a new open thread to tide you over.

DakotaPolitics.com

I was recently invited to syndicate Grand Forks Life on a new website that covers local, state, and national politics. The website, DakotaPolitics.com, is a part of the KXnet.com system. Visitors to DakotaPolitics.com will now see short versions of my blog posts and will be directed to my blog where they can read the full post and join in the conversation. I'm hoping that this syndication will bring new visitors to the local Grand Forks blogosphere.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Open Thread #48

Another Monday and another open thread...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Housecleaning

I've removed a few blogs from the "GF Blogs" section to the left. Each of these blogs hasn't been updated for a half a year or more so I see no real reason to keep them listed. The blogs that I'm removing include: Boyd Drive Follies, CulturePulse, GGFYP, and Maze of Feathers. If any of these blogs is regularly updated again, I'll be more than happy to re-list them. Also, any new posts to these blogs will still show up in the news feed on the left. I kind of hate to do this, but I want to keep this blog up-to-date. Next up, the "ND Blogs" list.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Fargo Farce

I agree with Mike Jacobs' editorial in Friday's Herald. Like Jacobs, I feel that by choosing "The Force" as the name of their new team, Fargo's hockey boosters are either incredibly stupid or - put quite simply - blatantly ripping off UND's athletic program.

It seems obvious that, while "The Force of the North" has become a new advertising slogan for UND athletics, it is also a very likely substitute nickname should UND decide to retire its beleaguered "Fighting Sioux" nickname. Kudos to UND for working on a backup plan...shame on Fargo's new hockey franchise for attempting to spoil those plans.

Surely UND has copyrighted "The Force of the North?" Doesn't "The Fargo Force" name violate those copyrights? Personally, I like "The Force of the North" as a potential new nickname for UND. UND should ensure that any plans they might have for "The Force of the North" are not spoiled or stolen by Fargo's upstart hockey team.

There goes those notions about Grand Forks always copying Fargo...

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Postcard: UND in the 1920s

UND in the Roaring Twenties

Here's another vintage postcard that I really like. The card shows five scenes from UND during the 1920s. According to the UND website,

The 1920's were an exuberant time in UND's history. Greek life was flourishing, events like the Flickertail Follies became yearly highlights, and the football and basketball teams gained national prominence. Faculty were very concerned about student morals. In 1920, there was a ban on cheek-to-cheek dancing and "unnecessary clinging" or cuddling on the dance floor. A committee of secret observers was detailed to report any violations on the ban. But soon, the increased availability of automobiles and the proximity of the States Ballroom in East Grand Forks, with the scandalous Charleston and Black Bottom dance contests, made it nearly impossible to control off-campus behavior.

Parties were elaborate -- and expensive -- affairs. They had names like Spinster Skip, Junior Prom, Senior Prom, Military Ball, and Winter Wonderland. For example, the Shadow Ball used the entire Armory, in which all the walls were covered with black and white, with an archway concealing the orchestra. Invitations were sent to just 150 co-eds, selected on the basis of popularity. During this time, the campus variety show, "Flickertail Follies," began. In 1950, they attracted national attention and were featured in LIFE magazine

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Wanted: a skyline

After reading through all of these comments about what downtown Grand Forks is missing, I have to point out another element that Grand Forks lacks: a skyline. If you weren't overly familiar with Grand Forks and you took a drive down Washington Street, you could simply pass DeMers Avenue by and never realize that you were bypassing the city's core. Certainly no downtown building is currently able to be seen by motorists on I-29. I believe that Grand Forks needs at least a few few taller buildings in our downtown area that, when viewed from a distance, make a recognizable Grand Forks skyline.

I feel that Grand Forks lacks anything that could be remotely called a skyline. Currently, the only taller buildings we have in town are the State Mill, the Canad Inn, and Columbia Towers. Downtown Grand Forks is seriously lacking in anything over a few stories tall. I don't consider a true skyline to be a couple of 10+ story buildings a few miles apart from each other. I would like to see a concentrated cluster of taller buildings located in our city's heart.

It is true that we live in a part of the world where land is abundant, but that doesn't mean we should only continue to push out horizontally while essentially ignoring vertical growth. Although it is nothing like the skylines of Minneapolis or even Winnipeg, downtown Fargo has a few taller buildings that could effectively be considered a skyline of sorts. Why shouldn't Grand Forks - a city which I personally like to consider the most "metropolitan" in the state - have a city skyline too?

When I talk about a skyline, I'm not necessarily talking about such terribly tall buildings. Ideally, I think a cluster of a few buildings in the 10-20 story range would be a perfect skyline for downtown Grand Forks. Perhaps, farther off in the future, we could even have a 25 or 30 story building downtown. I also think that any taller buildings constructed downtown should be architecturally interesting and recognizable as "Grand Forks landmarks" for years to come...our own little versions of the Foshay Tower or IDS Center.

Who would build these buildings and what would occupy them? Keep in mind that I'm not talking about 50 story office towers functioning as corporate headquarters...I'm talking something more along the lines of 10 to 20 story mixed-use buildings filled mainly with apartments or condos. There seems to be plenty of interest in living downtown these days...perhaps developers could consider constructing taller residential buildings than what has currently been done with developments like the new Elite Brownstones or the Current Apartments. I really think residential buildings would probably be the easiest sell for taller buildings downtown. Currently, there are plenty of empty commercial spaces downtown, but I believe that there are usually very few empty apartments or condos.

Next comes the question of where exactly to build the types of buildings that I'm talking about. I've said it before and I'll say it again...there are very few empty lots downtown for any type of development approaching a larger scale. I really think the boundaries of what we think of as downtown need to be pushed out a bit to accommodate growth like I'm talking about. With all of the destruction that was a result of the flood and fire, who wants to see any further buildings razed downtown? Unless we want to lose more historic buildings to the wrecking ball, we need to make sure more space is made available on the outskirts of downtown for development. I agree with those who have stated that no buildings under a certain number of stories should really be allowed to be constructed downtown.

I'm not saying that we should expect to see a number of taller buildings rising out of downtown any time soon. I merely think that establishing a skyline and ultimately encouraging more compact, dense growth is something that we should be seriously looking at. I believe that considerations should be made and plans should be drawn up for building the Grand Forks skyline of tomorrow. A true city needs a skyline and I want to eventually see a Grand Forks skyline that I can be proud of.

Monday, October 15, 2007

What is downtown missing?

There has been plenty of development in downtown Grand Forks in the last few years. A number of previously empty buildings are now filled and formerly empty lots have been converted to residential uses. Today, Herald economist Ralph Kingsbury has an interesting opinion piece about downtown's renaissance.

However, the renaissance is not complete. While much has taken place downtown since the flood and fire of 1997, I still often hear sentiments like "Downtown needs (fill in the blank)" or "Wouldn't it be so great to have a (fill in the blank) downtown." I am pleased with how far downtown has come in recent years. However, like most people, I see room for more development and further improvements.

So what do I think downtown needs? One thing that comes to mind first is retail. I feel that a vibrant city center needs to have plenty of choices of where to live, where to work, where to eat, and where to shop. There are now many dining and bar choices for downtown patrons...far more than just a few years ago. New residential developments, like the Elite Brownstones and the Current Apartments, have also been developed at a fairly impressive rate. However, this increase in residential, dining, and entertainment choices downtown has not been matched with an increase in retail choices.

Truthfully, there are very few stores downtown for the average citizen or tourist to shop at. I fully realize that downtown will likely never again see a return of the retail heyday of the past nor will it probably ever be able to compete with 32nd Avenue, but that doesn't mean that there still isn't plenty of room for improvement. I would like to see a variety of stores set up shop downtown.

How do you get small stores to open up downtown when most other retail activity is located in the southern sections of town? I think a few "anchor" stores might do the trick. Just like a shopping mall needs large, anchor stores to bring traffic to the smaller stores, I believe a downtown needs a few larger stores that attract shoppers to the neighborhood. These larger stores wouldn't have to be national chains, but I also don't think we should discourage national retailers from setting up shop downtown. A Borders or a Whole Foods Market would certainly bring shoppers downtown. I think that, along with more shoppers, such stores would also bring more retail establishments to the city's core. I believe that the synergy of a few large stores downtown would create the impetus for a retail renaissance of sorts.

Now, I'm turning it over to you...what do you think downtown needs more of? What types of restaurants? How about stores? Are there different types of residential developments you would like to see downtown? Please, share your thoughts and opinions of how downtown can be made even better than it currently is.

Open Thread #47

What's on your mind?

New poll: how about Leevers?

Now that Leevers has left the Grand Forks market, their old building on South Washington Street sits empty. Although Leevers was a smaller sized supermarket, their old building is still a fairly large space to have sitting empty on one of Grand Forks' busiest streets.

Personally, I don't imagine that this building will sit empty for too long...at least I'm hoping we don't have another Target on our hands here. Now the question becomes what should fill that empty space. I'm interested to hear what you think about this and that's why the new poll question is "What do you think should happen to the old Leevers building?"

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Poll results: you're pretty young

If you're reading this, you're probably fairly young. My recent poll regarding the ages of readers shows that only about 10% of visitors to GFL are over the age of 50. Around 37% of readers are in their twenties, making this demographic group the largest on this blog. Click here for the full results.

Selection
Votes
under 10 13%31
10-19 7%17
20-29 37%87
30-39 19%45
40-49 12%29
50-59 6%13
60-69 4%10
70-79 0%0
over 80 0%1
233 votes total

Monday, October 08, 2007

Open Thread #46

A new week and a new chance to have your say...

Friday, October 05, 2007

The future of University Village?

I recently came across several images of plans for University Village. All of the plans and renderings are from Icon Architects and they appear to be from a few years back. Click here to view a video of these plans.

University Village site plan

Some of the plans seem to have changed from when these proposals were drawn up. For instance, the plans show a new UND Alumni Center just west of Suite 49. Recently, the Alumni Association announced plans for a new center, but the proposed location is now near the President's House on campus.

Still, I think the plans are interesting. For instance, they show a potential location for the University Village hotel: just north of the Ralph Engelstad Arena. In the past, the location I had heard mentioned was just north of Suite 49.

Closer view...note hotel connected to the Ralph

One rendering also shows a proposed student housing complex. This has been mentioned before, but this is the first time I've seen any possible designs.

Note "Student Housing" in upper left

-All images Icon Architects

Thursday, October 04, 2007

GFL's second birthday

Thursday marks the second birthday of Grand Forks Life.

Let's look at a few numbers. Since October 4 of 2005, GFL has had over 120,000 unique visits and over 215,000 page views/hits. In total, this blog has had 387 posts by me and 6,648 reader comments. Let's break that down by year. In GFL's first year of operation, I put up 138 posts which drew a total of 1,514 comments (an average of 11 comments per post). In GFL's second year, I put up 249 posts which drew a total of 5,134 comments (an average of 21 comments per post).

However, these are all more than just statistics. These numbers show that a growing segment of local residents are making this blog a part of their daily lives. Some of you have been around from almost the beginning, while others have only recently discovered this forum for community interaction and information. I thank each and every one of GFL's readers. It has been very interesting getting to know all of you.

I believe this blog has evolved to have two complimentary purposes:

First, it allows any citizen the chance to share their thoughts and opinions of life in Grand Forks. The advent of "open threads" this past year has especially given people the ability to discuss a limitless array of topics. I believe this level of communication can be a very valuable tool for community leaders. Never before has it been so easy to gauge what people in this city are thinking and saying.

The second purpose of this blog is to get out information. Through my own posts and through the comments of readers, this blog has been responsible for breaking a wide assortment of local news stories. Readers of this blog will often get "the scoop" long before it airs on television or is printed in the paper. In fact, there have been a number of stories that likely never would have been mentioned in the local media had this blog not first published them. Click here to see just some of the stories that were on GFL before ever appearing in other local media. I'm happy that this blog is able to function as an independent, fresh source of news.

Thanks to all who read this blog and use it to discuss life in our community. You are responsible for Grand Forks Life's success.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bank Forward @ University Village

Here's a look at what the new Bank Forward branch currently under construction at University Village will look like when completed. The bank should open next month. Back in May, GFL was the first to report about Bank Forward coming to University Village. Can anyone tell me exactly where that Starbucks is going to be located? My guess is on the left (south) side of the building.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I Love Grand Forks

Quick...name one reason why you love Grand Forks. That shouldn't be very hard to do, in my opinion. Grand Forks may not be perfect, but I think even the most indifferent resident could come up with a list of things they love about this city.

I have a long list of reasons why I love living in this city, but now I want to hear why you love living here. So, I'm starting another new type of thread titled "I Love Grand Forks". Take a moment and name a few of the things about Grand Forks that you think make it lovable, livable, and maybe even unique.

These reasons can be as big as something along the lines of "the people" or as small as something like a favorite menu item at a local restaurant or a friendly cashier at a local store. Share as many reasons why you love Grand Forks as you care to. Rest assured that this will be a recurring type of thread so you don't have to share every reason just now.

We have a bit of an inferiority complex in this part of the country in general and in Grand Forks in particular. I think something like this will be a good way to point out the multitude of reasons why Grand Forks really is a pretty great place to live after all.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Sunday, September 23, 2007

What about Sam?

Hey, whatever happened to that proposal to rename Grand Forks' Town Square to Sam Silverman Square? I never even got the chance to really meet Sam, but I thought this was a fabulous way to memorialize one of this area's most prominent businessmen and memorable figures. I assume that all the city council would really need to do is issue a proclamation of some sort and buy a new plaque.

I would support either Sam Silverman Square or simply Silverman Square. Actually, I've thought about this and I'm a bit partial to Silverman Square...keep it short and sweet. It would still be honoring Sam and it seems like most cities usually apply only a last name to a public space like this...at least that's what was usually done in the past. I would be happy with either, though.

I've also mentioned this before...how about naming something in town after Hugo Magnuson? He was another prominent local figure whose name - like Sam's - is now synonymous with business in Grand Forks.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Open Thread #44

It's a little early to already start another open thread, but I think it is required when the last one has way over 120 comments. Feel free to continue in Open Thread #43 if you still want to talk about ongoing discussions there or feel free to move your discussions over into this new thread. You people love these open threads more all the time, don't you?

The streets of 2035

The Grand Forks Metropolitan Planning Organization is working on a long term plan of what the metropolitan area's streets and highways may look like circa 2035. The plan outlines a number of improvements to the current transportation network in both Grand Forks and East Grand Forks. I think it's always fascinating to think about what our community may look like several decades from now. Click here to take a look at the PDF file of the preliminary 2035 plan.

Some of the projects listed in the preliminary 2035 plan are different than those previously outlined in the current long term transportation plan that the MPO has been using. Among the more notable changes is that the 2035 plan no longer recommends widening both Columbia Road and 32nd Avenue into six-lanes (plus a turn lane). Instead, the new plan recommends making improvements to selected intersections along the corridor to relieve traffic congestion.

The plan separates projects into short-term, mid-term, and long-term categories. The following is an outline of what transportation improvements the MPO is considering for each time period. Keep in mind that this list only includes major changes to the transportation network...it doesn't include general maintenance projects such as reconstructing broken streets.

Short-term (0-5 years):
Extending 48th Street from the Industrial Park to 32nd Avenue...this is part of the city's plan to expand the Industrial Park
Upgrading the system of traffic lights downtown...I assume this means synchronizing the lights to minimize stopping and starting
Gateway Drive "access management"
Improvements to the intersection of 5th Avenue NW and Gateway Drive in EGF

Mid-term (6-15 years):
Merrifield Road interchange with I-29 and Merrifield Road bridge acrss the Red River...both projects are expected to cost a total of $35+ million dollars in that day's dollars
A 17th Avenue South overpass spanning I-29...note that this does not currently include an interchange with I-29
Totally realigning the way 42nd Street meets up with 32nd Avenue South and rebuilding the northbound ramps onto I-29...I'm not sure how this thing is going to work...sounds like a potentially messy intersection
Widening 42nd Street to four-lanes from 17th Avenue South to the 32nd Avenue area
Widening 47th Avenue South to three-lanes between Columbia Road and Washington Street
Adding a roundabout at the intersection of 24th Avenue South and 34th Street
Adding a traffic signal at intersection of Columbia Road and 36th Avenue South...also includes eliminating the break in Columbia Road's median which currently allows traffic to cross Columbia from SuperOne to Wal-Mart...this intersection would become a "3/4 access" intersection
Adding a third southbound lane on Columbia Road from DeMers Avenue ramp to 17th Avenue South
Adding double left-turn lanes at all approaches to intersection of Columbia Road and 17th Avenue South
Adding additional eastbound and westbound through lanes at intersection of DeMers Avenue and Washington Street
Extending northbound ramp at I-29 and DeMers Avenue
Widening Central Avenue from 17th Street to 23th Street in EGF

Long-term (16-28 years):
A new bridge spanning the Red River at 32nd Avenue South...expected to cost $48 million in that day's dollars
A new east-west arterial road connecting the new 32nd Avenue Bridge to Bygland Road in EGF
A 42nd Street overpass or underpass at DeMers Avenue/railroad...expected to cost $40 million in that time's dollars
Widening 32nd Avenue to four-lanes from 48th Street to 52nd Street
Widening Columbia Road to four-lanes from 36th Avenue South to 50th Avenue South
Widening South Washington Street to four-lanes from 48th Avenue South to 57th Avenue South
New traffic signals along DeMers Avenue at intersections with I-29 ramps and 48th Street

Update - 9/24/2007 - 1:20 AM
Tu-Uyen Tran has a story in Monday's paper about the 2035 transportation plan. How come no mention of that pesky roundabout?

Thursday, September 20, 2007

New poll: How old?

Time to start a new poll question. The new question is an oldy but a goody: "How old are you?" I think it would be interesting to get a better picture of just who reads this blog.

Don't worry, no one is going to know how old you in particular are...I know some people hate sharing their age. It will simply be interesting to see where this blog's readers fall. I'm guessing that 20s, 30s, and 40s are probably the biggest age groups.

Poll results: WDAZ men

Time to close the "Which male WDAZ personality is your favorite?" poll...click here to view the results. Terry Dullum and Milo Smith came out on top...Terry with 31% of the votes and Milo with 30%.

Interesting to note that, even though this poll was open longer than the WDAZ ladies poll, the men's poll didn't see near as many votes cast. Hmmm, guess the men didn't bother to clear their cookies again and again...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Open Thread #43

Another week, another open thread.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

A new hospital for Grand Forks

Now comes confirmation that what I reported last month was accurate: the Aurora Hospital is going to be built after all (Herald story).

Plenty of both good and bad things have been said about Grand Forks having a second hospital. In the end, I have to think that there is room in this market for a new hospital and I tend to see this as economic development.

I wish both health care systems a good future. I hope that Altru remains a strong, vibrant health care provider and employer for the community. As for Aurora, I hope that it will provide the second choice that some citizens are seeking and I also hope that it will offer growth and new jobs for Grand Forks. I'm a bit of an optimist, but I see good things in store for both Altru and Aurora.

By the way, I'm still scratching my head over how they're going to build a new hospital on that relatively small lot. How are they ever going to have enough room for a hospital and adequate parking lots? I assume we must be talking about a hospital building that is several floors tall?

Monday, September 10, 2007

Leevers closing?

According to a very interesting tip I received tonight, the Leevers grocery store on South Washington Street will be closing within the next few weeks. Perhaps this blog has some readers who work at Leevers who can confirm or deny this?

If memory serves me correctly, Leevers used to be a 24 hour store but started closing down at night a few months ago. It's possible that scaling back their hours was a sign of things to come. This would be the first grocery store to shut down since the new Wal-Mart Supercenter opened on 32nd Avenue last year. I know there have been questions in the past about how many grocery stores Grand Forks can accommodate.

Update - 9/11/2007 - 11:40 PM
It's not just a rumor...Leevers is going to close.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Open Thread #42

I think it's time to start a new open thread when the last one has over 100 comments...and yes, that is a new record.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

GF a job seekers' market?

It seems to me that, as of late, Grand Forks has become a rather good place for job seekers. Businesses around town seem understaffed and in need of workers. Last week, one major store on 32nd Avenue South was reportedly forced to temporarily bring in a dozen employees from the Fargo store because the Grand Forks store was both so busy and so understaffed. Major stores like Wal-Mart and Target have also reportedly been having a very difficult time filling empty positions. Not only are there not enough people to fill jobs around town, but there seems to be more traffic at local businesses which, in turn, requires those businesses to have more and more employees.

I need to mention that it isn't just the retail and service sectors that seem to be underemployed lately. From what I know, all sorts of Grand Forks businesses seem to be in need of workers. If you're looking for a manufacturing job, LM Glasfiber seems to be always hiring. If you're looking for a medical job, I believe both Altru and Aurora are hiring...I would have to think the upcoming construction of the new Aurora Hospital would only add to the need for more medical personal and staff in town. In short, it seems to be a good time to find a job in Grand Forks no matter what line of work you're looking for. At least, that's the impression that I get.

This bring us to the problem...who is going to fill all of the open positions around town? Yes, Grand Forks has been experiencing moderate population growth in recent years, but it still seems as though businesses are having a harder and harder time staffing. With more stores, restaurants, medical centers, manufacturers, and other businesses coming to Grand Forks over the next couple of years and with existing businesses expanding, who are those businesses going to find to hire?

It seems as though this must be a good time to make the move to Grand Forks. We have plenty of jobs, but not enough people to fill all of those jobs. I believe city leaders need to look into how we can attract more people to move to and work in Grand Forks. With so many open positions now and in the near future, it seems to me as though Grand Forks could experience a large gain in population if we can find ways to get the message out that there are jobs to be had in Grand Forks.

I suppose this job seekers' market can be seen in both a good and bad light. It's good in the fact that almost everyone who wants to work can find a job in Grand Forks. On the other hand, will new businesses continue to locate in Grand Forks when existing businesses are having such a hard time finding employees? Unless we can attract a larger population base and more workers to fill empty positions, our economy could potentially start to discourage new businesses from setting up shop here. That would be too bad, in my opinion.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Friday, August 31, 2007

IHOP coming after all

Friday's Herald has an article detailing a few of the new businesses which are coming to Grand Forks. Most of these projects - Denny's, Shoppes at Aurora strip mall, and remodeling the Gateway Hardees into a Subway/Little Caesar's - are not news to Grand Forks Life readers. However, one new business is a surprise: IHOP.

That restaurant chain is apparently coming to Grand Forks after all. The IHOP will be in the location that was previously mentioned as a site for an IHOP - 32nd Avenue just east of Village Inn. A new Denny's and a new IHOP both being built right next to an existing Village Inn...we must love pancakes in this town.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

New poll: WDAZ fav, part deux

I'm an equal opportunity blogger. WDAZ's ladies had fun voting for themselves this past week and now it's the men's turn. The new poll question is "Which male WDAZ personality is your favorite?" Somehow, I don't think this poll is going to be quite as popular or hotly contested as the last one. My vote? Well, it was a battle between Ernie and Terry...we'll just leave it at that.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Poll results: WDAZ ladies

Time to close that incredibly chauvinistic poll question "Which female WDAZ personality is your favorite?" The top vote getter was Christine Reid with 34% or 81 votes. Click here to see how the 236 votes break down.

Tornado pictures

We've seen images of the destruction caused by Sunday evening's tornado and now we are able to see images of the actual tornado that struck Northwood. Several UND atmospheric science graduate students were out storm chasing on Sunday evening and you can view their gallery of images.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Good morning, America!

UND's Photo on the Green will be featured tomorrow on ABC's Good Morning America. No word on exactly when the spot will air so you may want to record the entire show which airs from 7 to 9 AM.

Tornado strikes Northwood

A tornado struck Northwood, North Dakota last night at around 8:50 PM (Herald story). At least one person was killed and multiple people were injured. Early reports are that the town has been devastated by the tornado and that numerous structures are seriously damaged if not totally destroyed. A 19-unit mobile home park was destroyed. Winds were strong enough to tip over railroad cars and rip of the top of a grain elevator. Dozens of fire trucks and ambulances and literally hundreds of emergency responders were one the scene late last night. The town is without power and the lack of lights is preventing a thorough assessment of the tornado's level of destruction. The morning will shed light on just how destructive this tornado was and just how much assistance the people of Northwood are going to need cleaning up.

My heart goes out to the people of Northwood. Please feel free to use this thread to share your thoughts and stories of the tornado. Also, feel free to post requests for and offers of assistance here.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Open Thread #40

Wow...open thread #40. The GFL open thread is now entering middle age!

Friday, August 24, 2007

100,000 and counting

This blog has passed another milestone that I think is worth noting. Recently, the number of unique visits to Grand Forks Life passed 100,000 and the number of page views currently stands at over 187,000. I think these are decent numbers considering that this blog is still over a month away from its two year anniversary. Currently, this blog gets about 400 visits and 700-800 page views (aka hits) each day.

A while back, I told myself that I would be very happy if this blog grew to have an average of 500 visits a day...it looks like that will actually happen quite soon. Thanks to everyone who reads this blog. Grand Forks Life literally wouldn't exist if there weren't people out there to read my posts and add to the lively comment sections that can be found here.

Adelphi Fountain back at UND

Adelphi Fountain - 2007

The Adelphi Fountain is back home on the University of North Dakota campus after a yearlong project to restore it to its former grandeur. As the school year gets underway, students and faculty are being greeted by the newly refurbished 1907 fountain. The restoration project was funded by a portion of the $10 million dollars that the late Roy and Elnora Danley left to UND. The above image shows the restored fountain along with those who restored it. From right to left are John Colle Rogers, Jenny Cole, and Lorraine Fenaille. John Colle Rogers was the restoration coordinator and did the iron work. Jenny Cole and Lorraine Fenaille sculpted the figures.

The fountain is a beautiful symbol of UND and the restoration work is amazing. Those responsible for this project deserve a big thanks. Click here for more background on the fountain and the project to restore it.

Below is an image of what the fountain looked like when it was new. Pictured are the outgoing 1907 President of the Adelphi Society and the incoming 1908 President and Vice President. The Adelphi Society presented the fountain to UND in 1907.

Adelphi Fountain in its early years

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Shops at the Aurora

The current commercial growth on the far reaches of South Washington Street is apparently set to continue. In addition to the new Aurora Hospital which should soon start construction in the Aurora Medical Park, a new strip mall called The Shops at the Aurora will be built just north of the Medical Park campus. Construction on the new mall could begin this fall.

This new development is in addition to the other ongoing commercial developments across the street from the Aurora complex. Currently, the Homestead Grove development features a two-story office building, a strip mall, and a bank. A second strip mall and another financial institution are planned for the near future. Also, a new Valley Dairy convenience store is under construction in the area and a new Wells Fargo bank is planned. A set of new senior citizen residential communities called The View and Maple View will also soon be constructed in the neighborhood.

Lots of strip mall spots to fill...get ready for the Subways, cell phone stores, discount hair salons, and tanning clubs! Actually, I'm hoping we'll start to get some interesting tenants for some of these new strip malls around town...I'm crossing my fingers. I've heard about a couple of interesting restaurants that may set up shop in some of the new strip malls...guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Stop living in the 1970s, Herald

Today's Grand Forks Herald includes an article by our friend Tu-Uyen Tran about potential sites for that pesky landfill. The article includes an image showing the sites the city is looking at. It's interesting to see the potential locations, but something else about the map caught my eye. Look at the two versions of the image below. On the left is the version from the article and on the right is a version I altered to show the actual present day city limits of Grand Forks. Look at the difference between the two...what's the deal?


I know this is an odd thing to get worked up about, but this isn't the first time the Herald has used an incredibly outdated map like this. Almost every time they include a map of Grand Forks along with a news story, the city limits of the city are presented like this. I'm thinking the graphic artists at the Herald either need to drive around town more or need to stop living in the 70s. Literally, the city limits as presented in the Herald map are roughly the city limits of the late 70s. I'm not joking...Columbia Mall isn't even shown as being a part of the city limits. You could almost fit two of the city on the left into the city on the right...that's a little silly.

I know that I just got done saying that size isn't always everything, but in this case the Herald is so out of touch with what the actual city limits of Grand Forks are that it is just plain irritating. I wouldn't even bother to mention this if this wasn't a routine thing that the Herald does time and time again. Take this as some constructive feedback, Herald...put away those maps from the 70s and come up with a new map that accurately portrays the city limits. This is a real pet peeve of mine!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Aurora Hospital on its way

According to a source, the Aurora Hospital will soon be built in the burgeoning Aurora Medical Park on Grand Forks' south side. Forget about the fact that the Grand Forks City Council declined to grant them a tax break a few months back. Apparently, the Aurora group decided that their inability to secure a tax break from the city wasn't a good reason to scrap their plans.

When Aurora representatives made statements about having to "go back to the drawing board" after the tax break was voted down, I had a very hard time believing that the council's decision would really cancel the plans that the Aurora group had been crafting. I would expect to hear some concrete plans about construction of the new hospital in the near future. Stay tuned.

Does size really matter?

According to first day enrollment numbers at both UND and NDSU, the school to the south counted 276 more students than UND this year. In other words, for the first time in the two institutions' histories, NDSU is larger than UND. UND counted 12,011 students (a 2.5% drop from last year) and NDSU counted 12,287 (a 2.5% increase from last year). Read the Herald story.

Final fall enrollment figures for both universities won't be in for a few weeks and will likely show larger enrollment numbers. In the past, UND usually picks up more students before this final enrollment tally than NDSU does, so it is very possible that UND will still end up retaining its status as largest university in the state.

I'm asking you, do numbers like this matter? Would it be so terrible if UND ends up having a few less students than NDSU? Personally, I'm very fond of UND being larger than NDSU. In my opinion, UND is without a doubt the state's flagship institution of higher education and it is only logical that enrollment numbers should portray this fact. Still, I'm not too worried about NDSU having a few more students on its campus.

What I am more concerned about is if the current trend of small enrollment declines at UND will continue in the future. We've been slowly losing a few students each year for the past few years; that needs to stop soon. In all reality, I think the current enrollment trends at both institutions are liable to change in the near future. I wouldn't be suprised to see UND overtake NDSU again in a year or two...in fact, I expect it. Get to work UND!

New poll: WDAZ fav

This poll has been suggested before and I was a little reluctant to do it. However, I think it could be a fun change of pace and I think it could end up being a very popular poll. Ok, so here's the question..."Which female WDAZ personality is your favorite?" Everybody knows that WDAZers are forced to go incognito on this blog, but I don't think that has stopped them from lurking...I hope they get a kick out of this.

I leave it up to you to decide what qualities you base your vote on. Since she's turned her back on us and skipped off to Appleton, our friend Lacey can't be in the poll even if she really wants to be. Don't worry, ladies...I suppose I'll have to do a "Which male WDAZ personality is your favorite?" poll in the future. We all know the winner of that one would be Terry Dullum. I'm an equal opportunity blogger.

Oh yeah...and have fun voting for yourselves, ladies! Really...

Poll results: high hopes

When asked "In your opinion, will the new EGF movie theater be a success?", a majority of the 172 voters answered "yes." Check out the full results...


Selection
Votes
Yes 56%97
No 13%23
Too early to tell 30%52

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

GF businesses spruce up

Recently, several restaurants and other businesses in Grand Forks have started projects to spruce up their aging buildings. It's interesting to note that the businesses that I list below are not located in fast growing commercial areas such as the city's south side or even neighborhoods such as University Village or downtown. Instead, the businesses are located in areas of town that haven't seen much building activity for years. Some are even in areas that are often thought of as blighted.

Personally, I think there are many businesses in town which need a thorough face lift. I'm always a bit puzzled as to why some business owners never bother to update their buildings. There are business in town which needed remodeling ten or fifteen years ago, but their owners still don't feel the need to make these necessary updates. "Updates" can be as cheap as a new coat of paint on a faded wall or as expensive as a brand new building to replace a dilapidated one. Often, it seems like some business owners are too cheap to even spring for that new coat of paint. That's one reason why I'm happy to see these particular owners invest in their buildings. I think of it kind of like the broken window hypothesis in reverse: one improvement will lead to another and on and on.

A few projects around town...
•The McDonald's restaurant at the intersection of I-29 and Gateway Drive was torn this summer and replaced with an entirely new building. The new building appears to be roughly the same size as the old one, but sports a modern exterior with colorful accents like yellow awnings. The old, dark brick building was a little depressing looking and clearly in need of some major upgrades. The new restaurant should open soon. With the construction of this new building, all three McDonald's locations in the city of Grand Forks have buildings that were built in the last ten years.

•Grand Forks' only remaining Hardee's restaurant, located on South Columbia Road, is in the early stages of a much needed upgrade. According to a manager at the restaurant, the exterior of the building is being remodeled first and an exterior remodeling will occur after that. The restaurant has never had a major remodeling project in its twenty some years. On a side note, my family used to eat at Hardee's on almost a weekly basis back in the 80s and early 90s, but now we haven't eaten there in years. I'm guessing we're not the only ones who don't go there as much as we used to; Grand Forks has gone from three Hardee's to just one in a matter of a couple of years.

•Just down the street from Hardee's, the South Columbia Road Subway restaurant has been temporarily closed for a remodeling project. I know there are a bunch of people out there who are sick of hearing any and all news regarding Grand Forks' burgeoning stock of Subways. Well...at least I'm not reporting about a brand new Subway opening up. A remodeled Subway is better than an outdated one, right?

•The Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant on South Washington Street is in the midst of a major remodeling project which includes the building's exterior and...I'm hoping...the interior as well. I like KFC, but that restaurant is ridiculously small and incredibly outdated. I know that tiny lot will prevent any expansion of the building, but I'm happy to see the building's appearance improved. I'm still not sure why KFC has never opened a second Grand Forks location...32nd Avenue seems like a very logical location.

•The old South Washington strip mall that houses Mexican Village is being extensively remodeled. I've heard others say this and I agree: it looks like a brand new strip mall was plopped down right on Washington. I'm very pleased to see really outdated buildings like this mall remodeled.

Am I missing any other major remodeling projects that are going on out there? What other restaurants or stores in Grand Forks need a good makeover? One that pops into my mind is Taco Bell. Our two Taco Bells are very, very 90s. I'm jealous of the new Taco Bell across from West Acres in Fargo...odd thing to be jealous over, huh?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Open Thread #39

Some of the more popular threads had 70-80 comments this past week...that's amazing. Can you keep it up?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Alerus Center: now what?

The Alerus Center has seen its share of headlines lately: the recent opening of the huge Canad Inns Destination Center, a couple of successful summer concerts, the announcement that the center will soon charge for parking, the departure of Compass Facility Management, and now the departure of Executive Director Charlie Jeske. Clearly, there have been both highs and lows...good headlines and some not so good ones. Some things seems to be going quite well for the complex. On the other hand, there are unanswered questions about the Alerus Center's future.

I'm interested to hear what you, the readers of this blog, think about the future of the Alerus Center. How will things change after Compass is gone? What about that pay parking...is that going to be a big problem? What kind of an Executive Director would you like to see leading the Alerus Center in the future? Also, given the recent success of a couple of concerts, what acts would you like to see the Alerus Center try to bring in? There are many interesting things to talk about here, people. I'm looking forward to seeing what you have to say. The Alerus Center is always a fun topic!

Lacey's last day

As of today, Lacey Crisp is no longer a part of WDAZ. I, for one, am going to miss that girl. Now that she's no longer with the blog-hating WDAZ, Lacey can post on here if she wants to. Good luck in Appleton, Lacey!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Commercial construction in EGF

On Friday evening I happened to be driving around the north side of East Grand Forks when I noticed something interesting. You know that big empty lot right west of Hugo's and just south of the old Maury's building? It's sat empty for years, but a sign which reads something to the effect of "Coming soon - commercial space for lease" has just been put up on the property. There appeared to be some sort of building pictured in the background of the sign, but it was getting dark and I couldn't make out what kind of a building it was. I'm guessing it must be either an office building or a strip mall...probably a strip mall.

I know "they are going to build some office building or strip mall in East Grand Forks" isn't much of a news story, but it made me do some thinking. When was the last time that a new retail building was built in East Grand Forks? I'm thinking it was either the new video store or the new dollar store (both in front of Hugo's). The sad thing is, both of those projects were from several years ago. In other words, commercial growth - namely retail - seems to be almost non-existent on the Eastside lately.

Why have East Grand Forks' commercial areas sat virtually stagnant during the same period that huge tracts of commercial land have been filled in Grand Forks? I know there is some correlation between the activity in Grand Forks and the lack of activity in East Grand Forks, but I don't think it is fair to only blame Grand Forks' growth for East Grand Forks' commercial stagnancy.

Let's look at an example. Fargo and West Fargo obviously have booming retail areas, but the retail community in Moorhead is not stagnant by any means. There have been quite a few smaller commercial projects in Moorhead and now a new Mendard's is even going to open and there are more big name retailers on the horizon. What is Moorhead doing right that East Grand Forks is doing wrong?

I have to think that there is some reason why national retail and restaurant chains aren't eager to set of shop on the Eastside, but I can't figure out what that reason is. I think that a metropolitan area like Greater Grand Forks should have vibrant growth in all areas. That's why I think it's very unfortunate that the commercial community in East Grand Forks is anything but vibrant. What is preventing a Wal-Mart, a Target, or even something smaller like a Starbucks or a Taco Bell from setting up shop on the Eastside?

If I were in the city government of East Grand Forks, I would be very concerned about this stagnancy. I think it's really very sad when the recent big business stories in your town are the departure/bankruptcy of a craft store and the failure of a city-owned mall. Here's hoping that East Grand Forks sees more projects like the upcoming movie theater and the new building I mentioned at the start of this post. I think it's high time for the city of East Grand Forks to look at what is preventing real commercial growth from occurring in their community.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Pet Peeves #3

Ok, enough with all that talk about good customer service and all that nicey, nicey stuff. Once again, I'm asking my readers what bugs you?

My pet peeve:
people who don't know/care how to navigate parking lots.

I'm sick and tired of driving in parking lots when all of a sudden some vehicle comes out of nowhere and cuts right in front of me. I always go the proper direction in parking lots...it's not even a question for me. However, a good percentage of the populous seems to think it's a really smart idea to just drive any direction they
want to.

For whatever reason, some parking lots are worse then others. THE worst parking lot I've ever seen for bad driving is the Grand Cities Mall lot. At times, I think I'm the only person in town who bothers to drive the proper direction in that lot.

I don't understand the thought process behind this kind of behavior. I guess it boils down to...

Who cares if I'm the only car going kitty-corner through the parking lot? Those idiots going the proper direction will just have to wait for me and my big old pickup truck! My time is the most important thing! Proper driving etiquette and the safety of others be damned!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Street construction update

I took a drive around town this evening and noticed that quite a few street construction projects are either completed, near completion, or at least well underway. This year, there really hasn't been any one huge project. Instead, the projects seem to be relatively small in scope and scattered all over the city. Of course, projects like these are often inconvenient and there are certainly more than enough people in town who like to grumble about street construction projects, but I for one am always happy to see projects like these take place. Some of these projects have been needed for far to long and others are essential if we want to continue to grow as a city. Street construction may be a bit of a pain, but it is a pain that I gladly endure!

Here's an update on where city street projects stand right now:

Columbia Road overpass - The reconstruction/repair of a portion of the overpass' south side is now complete (press release). The project's purpose was to repair a "finger joint" which had shifted a while ago. In light of recent headlines, it's probably a pretty good idea to make certain that bridges and overpasses are in good structural condition. This project reduced traffic on the overpass to two-lane, two-way traffic. A headache, but I'm happy to see the overpass once again in good shape.

University Avenue overpass - This reconstruction project is now complete (press release). The project entirely shut down the University Avenue overpass for much of the summer, requiring some rather long detours for motorists. Before the project, this was one of the bumpiest stretches of roadway in the entire city...you almost felt like you were going to lose your engine or something...literally. Now, I'm happy to say that the approaches to the overpass are nice and smooth. In my opinion, it took way too long for this necessary reconstruction project to take place. I'm just happy that it finally did take place after many years of bumpy rides. My only problem is the fact that there is now a short stretch of University Avenue between 42nd Street and the overpass that is still all broken up and bumpy; I wish the city would at least mill and overlay that section so the entire corridor would be nice and smooth.

Columbia Road/24th Avenue - This busy intersection has always been one of the most confusing and dangerous in the city. This is probably the biggest street construction projects of the year and I'm guessing it still has a ways to go. By the way, am I the only one who is frustrated that all of the street lights around this intersection have been turned off all summer long? Do they really have to turn off the lights just because they are reconstructing the intersection?

40th Avenue South - It looks like this project still has a ways to go. When completed, motorists will be able to drive on 40th Avenue from Belmont Road all the way west to Ruemmele Road (south of Kohl's).

62nd Avenue South - Residents who haven't ventured into the far reaches of southern Grand Forks probably haven't realized that a future major arterial for the city, 62nd Avenue South, has been under construction this summer. The avenue received an overlay from Columbia Road all the way east to South Washington Street. I drove on 62nd Avenue this evening...nice and smooth. It is still just a two-lane road and will have to be fully "urbanized" in the near future, but it is in much better shape now then it was this time last year.

I think that's a pretty decent update on most of the larger street projects around the city. Any others?