Bismarck takes a small step forward towards Civic Center upgrades.
Last Fall, 57 percent of Bismarck voters rejected a proposed expansion of the Civic Center. That project came with a price tag of $90 million. Those in favor argued the hospitality taxes to cover the bill would be mostly paid by outsiders. Opponents feared stifled growth and parking concerns. Despite being voted down, Mayor John Warford went on the record saying the needs at the Civic Center have not gone away. Bismarck Commissioners agreed, and decided to take an incremental step and proceed with obtaining a scaled-down design.
Josh Askvig, Bismarck City Commissioner, also spoke out on the issue saying, "to keep some of those major conventions, we might have to take some intermediate steps to do that, and so to move ahead with the design seemed prudent, but this certainly wasn't the last straw and we're certainly going to have some more discussion about it and the opportunity for the public to have their voice heard."
This does not mean the City is proceeding with an expansion or any upgrades. Jeff Ubl, President, Ubl Design Group, who submitted a report on the Civic Center, explained: "Essentially where we are right now is the City Commission has authorized us to begin design on the Exhibit Hall expansion. It doesn't involve bidding. It doesn't involve construction. All of that will have to come back to the City for approval."
Current discussion only involves a scaled-down expansion of the Exhibit Hall. At $25 million, the price-tag is scaled down too. If the City ultimately proceeds, completion is slated for 2014. Bismarck Commissioners want input and will be providing a schedule for public comment on this new plan.