Note: This is the first of a five-part series on Minot at the end of 2018. It’s a snapshot of a community coming out of one of the most tumultuous periods in its history. For the first time in many years, there is something to look forward to going into a new year. That the community is vigorously debating the strategies and philosophies behind Minot’s future is a good thing. Only a few years ago, water and oil consumed the public discourse as Minot worked to survive an inundation by both. There was little time then to think about the future — surviving the immediate needs of the present was the order of the day. Minot has its issues, but it also has a vision. This series will attempt to highlight both.
If you really want a picturesque view of Minot, go up to North Hill in the morning, near the airport. Stand by the walking bridge and look south.
During the day, you can visually trace Broadway, the busy, serpentine main road that splits the city in half, east and west.
Nestled in this view are businesses, churches, apartments, homes and a university.
During a fall day, if conditions are right, you can see hundreds of little streams of smoke trailing upward, the sun illuminating a light fog quietly hovering over the community.
At night from this vantage point, Minot glitters like a velvet blanket studded with sparkling diamonds. The street lights bathe Broadway in a warm glow. Red tail lights in one lane and bright white headlights in another trace the seemingly endless traffic flow.
Years ago, there was a fanciful tradition among lovelorn teens to take their dates up to North Hill at night and show how the city lights spelled “Minot.”
The idea was you start spelling from the left and, by the time you’re looking right, you can then steal a kiss.
That story, like the view, is a nostalgic one.
Because, from the wide-angle perch of North Hill, Minot looks serene, timeless.
Look a little closer, however, and the charming image at a distance gives way to some gritty details and realities.
For Minot is a city in transition. It is emerging from a series of painful challenges that, incredibly, all struck within the same 10-year period:
- A massive flood that changed the landscape and mood of the community.
- The hyper inflated prices in housing, food and more from an oil boom.
- The economic losses of an oil downturn, decimating city revenue streams.
- Deep city budget cuts that prompted the loss of city employees.
- Significant property tax hikes that have led to anger and anguish.
- Rapid population growth that has strained the city’s infrastructure.
- The rise in illicit drugs and crime that came with the growing population.
- Road and flood control projects that seem without immediate purpose.
- A downtown parking garage project that, to some, is a “money pit.”
But the key word here is “emerging.”
Strategies for growth in business, population and the tax base are coming together. The city is preparing for what will happen in the next five years.
The question is, are the residents of Minot willing to wait a little longer, perhaps endure a little more pain and have a little faith in their elected leaders to bring about a community renaissance in the aftermath of so much trouble and misery?
Which will come first — an end to public patience or the beginning of a new era?
This is Minot near the end of 2018. After years of struggle, the city is on the brink of unprecedented development and change.
Which would leave the view from North Hill a charming one, but incomplete, because the city’s future is growing in many other directions.
Tomorrow: In Minot these days, it’s all about the money: Property taxes, city spending, financial obligations and more. Plus, are the citizens of Minot “paying the piper” today for years of artificially low property tax rates?