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E. Ward Koeser, Published June 06 2010

Williston not asking for session

I appreciate this opportunity to set the record straight concerning the need for a special legislative session to address infrastructure issues in Williston, N.D. First of all, thanks to a pilot program that Gov. John Hoeven and his team put together through state agencies and existing programs, we are no longer seeking a special session, and, in fact, won’t be prepared for the regular session for several months yet. There are a number of complicated issues that need to be addressed, and we hope to have a comprehensive plan for the Legislature to consider.

In early April, the governor, along with the state commerce commissioner, president of the Bank of North Dakota, and representatives of the North Dakota Public Finance Authority and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, came to Williston to meet personally with residents and elected officials to find a solution to our housing challenges.

The result of that meeting was a plan to assist the city of Williston through the North Dakota Public Finance Authority, with letters of credit from the Bank of North Dakota, to develop up to 250 new lots in the city. This pilot program was an effort to give us the tools we needed to attract developers to the region, and today we have two parties working with us to develop housing units that will help meet our needs in the near future.

Meanwhile, we in Williston will spend the next several months working and planning an agenda that will address the region’s broader, long-term needs, including housing, water and roads. When that work is completed, we will then work again with the governor to take our plan to the regular session, which by that time will be just a few short months away.

Our issues in western North Dakota are complicated, and a comprehensive, long-range plan to develop our community will take time and thoughtfulness. We are grateful that Hoeven gave us that time, as well as the resources we need right now, to bridge the gap to the regular session and a very promising future for western North Dakota. As we are able to meet our challenges, benefits will be received by the whole state.

Koeser is mayor of Williston.