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Associated Press, Published October 23 2013

Post-flood vision for downtown Minot unveiled

MINOT, N.D. — Aesthetically pleasing areas that "embrace the riverfront" and attract the public are a big part of plans being developed for Minot's downtown as the city continues to recover from a devastating Souris River flood two years ago.

Officials with the city and consultant Stantec have unveiled two conceptual plans for the future of downtown. Stantec is gathering feedback from the public and is expected to produce a final document by year's end, the Minot Daily News reported.

The river, swollen to historic levels by heavy spring snowmelt and rain, swamped a large part of Minot including the downtown area in June 2011. Floodwaters damaged or destroyed more than 4,000 homes, businesses and other structures in the city and caused nearly $700 million in damage.

The long-range vision for downtown, unveiled this week, includes parks, trees and open spaces.

"One of the key goals is to really reach out and bring people to the downtown," said project manager John Slack, a landscape architect and urban designer with Stantec. "We want to get people out on the street and get them into the shops. We want to get them to stay in downtown."

One park would be near the river.

"We are looking at how downtown can embrace the riverfront and bring the riverfront into the downtown," Slack said.

Other ideas include a public plaza, a promenade area for public walking, sidewalk dining, decorative signs and lighting, a number of new buildings and additional parking.

"This is all about really starting to create a pedestrian-friendly public realm," Slack said.

Another idea being considered is to turn an old grain elevator into a climbing wall.

"Some communities would say just tear it down," Slack said, adding that "there's an opportunity to play off the history and weave it into the design."

The development will require public and private investment. Bonny Kemper, president of the Downtown Business and Professional Association, said it would be "money being spent in the city for the city."

Slack said short-range goals might be accomplished in fewer than five years, but some goals will take 15 years or more.

Downtown revitalization would benefit community life, said Brock Storrusten, branch manager for Moore Engineering.

"I definitely like the vision," he said. "The community needs to have a vision."