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Love This Day > Winter Solstice

“How many lessons of faith and beauty we should lose, if there were no winter in our year!” —Thomas Wentworth Higginson
As the daylight wanes quickly in September and October in our part of the country, I start looking forward to this day each year. I enjoy the seasons and the changes they bring, but the sunny, warm days would not be as sweet without winters embrace.
Here’s a well written article about the Winter Solstice by Laura Geggle of Live Science:

Winter Solstice: The Science of the Shortest Day of 2016

Winter Solstice: The Science of the Shortest Day of 2016

On the winter solstice, the sun is at its southernmost point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere.

Credit: elod pali | Shutterstock.com

Winter in the Northern Hemisphere officially kicks off Wednesday (Dec. 21), which marks the December solstice — the day with the fewest hours of daylight of 2016.
Although the solstice gets an entire day of recognition, it happens in an instant: at 5:44 a.m. EST (1044 GMT), when the North Pole is at its farthest tilt of 23.5 degrees away from the sun. This position leaves the North Pole beyond the sun’s reach, and plunges it into total darkness, according to EarthSky.org.
At this moment, the sun will shine directly overhead at noon at exactly 23.5 degrees south of the equator, along the imaginary latitude line known as the Tropic of Capricorn, which runs through Australia, Chile, southern Brazil and northern South Africa. This is when when the sun appears to be at its southernmost point in the sky; as such, the Southern Hemisphere has its longest day of the year, and the Northern Hemisphere has its shortest day of the year, on the winter solstice, according to EarthSky. [6 Ancient Tributes to the Winter Solstice]

At 5:44 a.m. EST, the sun will also reach its southernmost point in the sky in the Northern Hemisphere. After that moment, the sun will stop moving southward and will begin its trek northward in the sky — hence the name “solstice,” which means “sun stands still” in Latin, according to NASA.
After the winter solstice, the days will begin to get longer in the Northern Hemisphere. But that doesn’t mean temperatures will increase immediately. Rather, northern midlatitudes will experience the winter chill partly because they’ll only get about 9 hours of daylight in the weeks following the solstice, compared with the roughly 15 hours of daily sunlight they get around the summer solstice, Live Science reported in 2012. In addition, the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the sun, making it colder.
In addition, even as the days get longer, the oceans, which moderate temperatures on land, need a vast amount of energy from the sun to heat up.
There are countless cultures that have recognized the winter solstice. The most famous is in Stonehenge in England. When the sun sets on the shortest day of the year, the sun’s rays align with Stonehenge’s central Altar stone and Slaughter stone, which may have had spiritual significance to the people who built it, Live Science reported in 2013.
Across the world in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, the ancient stonewalled Mayan city of Tulum also has a structure honoring the solstices. When the sun rises on the winter and summer solstices, its rays shine through a small hole at the top of one of the stone buildings, which creates a starburst effect.
Original article on Live Science.

Happiest States? Minnesota and North Dakota Top 3 Edging Out Hawaii

Fun to see our region emerging as the happiest states according to an interesting methodology. North Dakota ranks #1 for community and social environment. We know these studies are never comprehensive, but for the factors they evaluated, it’s a snapshot showing we’re improving by diversifying our population and economy.
chalk
While we are improving in many ways, it’s important to recognize we have a long way to go to reach our regions great potential in a purposeful, inclusive, and sustainable manner.  Working together, the best is yet to come!
Here’s the article from Wallethub:

2016’s Happiest States in America

by Richie Bernardo  |  Sep 12, 2016

Top-Image-Most and Least Happy States in America
Can money truly buy happiness? Most people might be inclined to say no, based on moral principles. But some researchers beg to differ, suggesting that money can indeed contribute to happiness — but only up to a certain dollar amount. According to their findings, life satisfaction, one of the two main components of happiness, increases as income rises — to a maximum of $75,000 a year. Beyond that figure, money makes little difference in a person’s overall contentment with life.
Reinforcing those findings are the annual results of a Gallup-Healthways poll measuring global well-being. According to Gallup-Healthways, “People who make more money tend to report higher positive emotions.” But income isn’t the only determinant of personal happiness. Apart from financial security, a pleasant state of being also depends on other factors, such as one’s physical health, personal purpose and social connectivity.
WalletHub’s analysts considered all of these elements to determine which states are home to the happiest Americans. In order to do so, we compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key metrics, ranging from emotional health to income levels to sports participation rates. Our findings, additional expert commentary and a detailed methodology can be found below.

Main Findings

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Overall Rank State Total Score ‘Emotional & Physical Well-Being’ Rank ‘Work Environment’ Rank ‘Community & Environment’ Rank
1 Utah 71.02 4 1 2
2 Minnesota 69.09 1 9 5
3 North Dakota 67.95 11 2 1
4 Hawaii 66.63 2 20 3
5 Colorado 61.59 3 18 36
6 Idaho 60.93 24 3 4
7 Iowa 60.92 14 5 14
8 Nebraska 60.65 12 8 18
9 South Dakota 60.08 9 6 35
10 California 59.96 5 37 6
11 New Hampshire 59.50 7 21 16
12 Washington 59.26 20 13 7
13 Wyoming 59.24 17 19 8
14 Vermont 58.01 10 22 30
15 Wisconsin 57.80 19 17 11
16 Massachusetts 57.42 15 26 17
17 Connecticut 57.04 13 39 12
18 District of Columbia 57.01 8 35 26
19 Delaware 57.01 21 7 31
20 New Jersey 56.82 6 42 24
21 Virginia 56.61 22 23 10
22 Montana 55.49 25 4 42
23 Maryland 55.14 16 39 22
24 Kansas 54.55 23 15 40
25 Illinois 52.60 26 41 23
26 New York 52.54 27 44 13
27 Rhode Island 52.37 31 33 15
28 Alaska 52.23 18 38 46
29 Texas 52.23 33 27 20
30 North Carolina 52.16 32 30 21
31 Arizona 51.51 28 31 38
32 Oregon 51.40 36 16 29
33 Maine 51.32 30 36 27
34 Pennsylvania 49.98 38 32 9
35 Florida 49.14 29 45 41
36 Nevada 48.23 35 43 32
37 Georgia 47.43 34 47 37
38 South Carolina 47.06 39 29 25
39 Ohio 46.04 42 25 19
40 Indiana 45.94 44 12 33
41 New Mexico 45.02 37 51 43
42 Missouri 44.58 41 14 47
43 Michigan 44.17 40 24 49
44 Oklahoma 41.36 47 10 39
45 Tennessee 39.96 45 28 45
46 Louisiana 39.03 43 50 50
47 Arkansas 38.22 49 11 48
48 Mississippi 36.05 46 34 51
49 Kentucky 35.08 50 46 34
50 Alabama 34.15 48 49 44
51 West Virginia 32.65 51 48 28

 

Wonderful Downtown Project, Roberts Mixed Use Ramp Breaks Ground

Thanks to an incredible amount of good work by many building on years of solid planning, a long needed project is coming to fruition.
Here’s a current picture of this two acre site. Now a low value surface parking lot where vibrant buildings used to be. With the new mixed use projects, over 180 people will live there, 9,500 sqf of sidewalk and alley retail, bike parking, 450 publicly owned and operated stalls wrapped by private housing and retail developed by the excellent team at Kilbourne Group.

 
Our record setting Great Rides Bikeshare has stations to the east and the west, our new fast, fun, and free Link FM goes right by with it’s 15 min route connecting our downtown with Moorhead Mall, and Matbus that has tripled ridership to over 2.1 million rides annually has 7 minute routes to campus and 15 min routes to West Acres.

 
I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of wonderful people on this type of mixed use project for over 12 years and we gained traction when I worked with Charley Johnson of Convention and Visitors to arrange a bus trip with fellow commissioners and local architects and businesses. We went two trips, one to Sioux Falls and Lincoln to see how they’ve developed ramps wrapped with residential, office, and active retail on the sidewalks, and another to Winnipeg to see how they’re redeveloping their downtown and riverfront. They shared their successes and mistakes freely. Thanks so much to them!
 
Good stuff on my last days as commissioner after the limit of three terms. It’s a pleasure working with you over the years and more good stuff to come as I’ll still be on the Parking Commission and will be engaged with our City Center Comp plan to continue to implement the Fargo GO 2030 priorities.
 
Let’s keep working to grow well together, and GO FARGO!!

Here’s what an animation of what this will be:

 
Had a blast breaking ground with a big backhoe! I used to run smaller ones 35 years ago when I worked construction.Kickoff-overhead
Williams-dig-e1466617836424-768x1365

 

Crews break ground on Kilbourne’s “Roberts Garage” in downtown Fargo

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) – One scoop of dirt today started a “parking revolution” in downtown Fargo.
Construction has started on Kilbourne’s “Roberts Garage” project which will bring retail, housing and more parking to downtown.mike digging Roberts

 It was only fitting that Outgoing Fargo City Commissioner Mike Williams, long a champion for downtown, would sit in a backhoe and dig the first scoop of dirt for Kilbourne’s Roberts Garage. What will be a multi-phase build, in lots, north of the downtown post office. Parking, apartments, and retail.
“What the country has learned about mixed use parking structures, it provides a human scale solution, and continues to have very high walkability, and provide parking that’s needed in your downtowns,” said Mike Allmendinger, Kilbourne Group.
Parking lots like this one in Downtown Fargo, don’t bring in much tax revenue to the city of Fargo, adding retail and apartments and a parking lot will change that.
“So from $3,400 to $240,000 and then have residents here. So it triples the parking, adds residential units from studios to lofts, and then start-up retail on the alley,” said Mike Williams, City Commissioner.
What used to be home to works of Shakespeare, Plato and Emerson in the Carnegie Library, will now go from a tar lot, to a new look for downtown. A 450 stall garage, 74 apartments and townhomes, and 9,500 square feet of retail, food and beverage space. Commissioner says there is more of this Public Private partnership to come.
“We’re not even halfway done to reach our potential, connecting to the river front, embracing the river, adding to these flats, 109 acres of flat surfaced parking lots, feature people and accommodate cars, and look for other ways to move around than having to drive everywhere,” said Mike Williams.
This comes after the city traveled to other Midwestern cities the size of Fargo, to see how downtown cores were developed, especially when a Riverfront is involved.

Block 9 sets a terrible precedent

While Block 9 is a neat concept, the unprecedented tax waiver incentive package that was passed 3-2 last night set a new level of public assistance for privately owned structures.
From this point going forward, what do you think any developer that comes to build a large mixed use project in Fargo, (there are many waiting for the newly protected area by the riverfront) can expect for a tax waiver from the city?
In this case, the city bonds for a $7,000,000 parking structure that the private developer gets to use and own, using money they don’t have to pay in taxes, $625,000 a year in PILOT for 15-20 years. And the kicker is a 25 year TIF for 20 – $1,000,000 condos where the public tax increment that pays for a privately owned plaza they say the public will be able to use for certain events. HOLD010816.N.FF_.BLOCK9-1
To this point, most downtown incentives have been justified. Not this one. There will not be additional property taxes paid to the schools, parks, county, or city for services for these buildings for 20 – 25 years. And when that time is up, these multi million dollar companies will own a publicly funded, privately owned and operated parking garage that will generate rental cash for as long as it stands.
We have a proven successful model for public/private developments that include structures for public parking. The Civic Ramp, the Island Park Ramp, and the soon to be built Roberts Street Ramp are all publicly owned and operated parking structures that increase available public parking. Each of those projects used a tax increment where the private developer pays taxes on the new development. Some of those taxes are then allocated to help pay the debt service on the public ramp along with parking rent revenues.
The Civic and Island Park Ramp are now paid for and generate net parking rental revenue of $288,000 a year at Island Park ramp and at the Civic Ramp $180,000. This public revenue helps fund public parking maintenance, improvements and operations and helps offset tax increases. That will not be the case with the Block 9 development. The private developer that didn’t have to pay taxes through the PILOT gets to own the structure and those parking rents for the life of the building
Here’s how the vote went at the Fargo City Commission Monday night:

Here are the votes in order (They had them bundled but I separated them to vote on each)

  1. I voted to approve a Renewal plan that could allow a formation of a TIF, but did not approve the TIF that was proposed on the final motion (#4 below) in the developers agreement. (eligible uses/amounts are determined in the Developers Agreement motion that I voted against)
  2. The only incentive I approved was the R Zone for 5 yrs.
  3. I voted against the motion for the PILOT
  4. I voted against the developers agreement that had the proposed 25 year TIF for 20 – 22 $1,000,000 condos

How would you vote? See online poll here.
Definitely not a good day for Fargo and downtown. We have to do much, much better.

Density and desirable, affordable, and walkable neighborhoods

Some folks seem to think density automatically means skyscrapers. It’s just not so. Density is just one way to measure land use.
For perspective, in 1960 Fargo’s population was 47,000 in less than 8 sections of land. Now with 115,000 people we have 50 sections of land. 2.4 times the number of people, over 6 times the amount of land. Poor land use makes flood protection, transportation, and efficient deliveries of city services more expensive and difficult.

Letter: Growing smartly in Fargo:

Fargo’s in a fantastic situation, and we’ve been growing for years thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years, we’ve seen a bit over 1 percent population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that. How and where we grow matters.
It’s difficult to change the decades-old ingrained philosophy that leapfrog development works and that quality land use doesn’t matter, but the math shows we have to do better with planning and land use if we’re going to reach Fargo’s great potential.
A Forum editorial (Oct. 27) said dividing the 50 sections of land (32,000 acres) by our population is not an honest way to determine density and that there is no cost to the city or taxpayers for skipped-over undeveloped or underdeveloped land where there is little or no infrastructure. The editorial incorrectly stated the number of people per acre in 1950 was 50. The correct number is 10.7.
Where is market?
The editorial didn’t raise any objection to encouraging development farther into new greenfields that would not likely be protected with certified flood protection until the diversion is finished. They cite this is the development the market wants. This “market” is skewed by our current growth policies that subsidize premature expansion into the flood plain.
Where is the market in Fargo? Realtors nationwide cite Fargo’s 58103 as a top ten housing market in the entire country. That’s the older traditional neighborhood design area from Main Avenue to 32nd Avenue South.9th St Fargo pic
The current footprint of land in Fargo’s annexed area is just over 50 square miles with a population of about 115,000. Fifty square miles = 32,000 acres divided into 115,000 population = 3.6 people per acre.
A recent Forum article correctly says that in 1950 Fargo had 10.7 people per acre. This is common in walkable traditional neighborhood design. For perspective, San Francisco has a smaller footprint than Fargo with more than 1 million people = 33 people per acre.
In Fargo’s comprehensive plan, there is a goal of nine people per acre – this is similar to the density we currently have in our popular mature existing neighborhoods like Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Horace Mann and others.
Projected growth in Fargo by 2040 is 154,170 and metro’s projected population growth by 2040 is 259,950 people.
Enough land
When we do the math, we find we currently have enough land to accommodate our population estimate and more if we achieve our nine people per acre density goal – 32,000 acres X 9 people per acre = 288,000 population just in Fargo’s current footprint. Even if we only add two people per acre in the next 25 years, it would be 64,000 more people added to our current 115,000 = 179,000 people, far more than the 154,170 that is projected for Fargo.
Conversely, if we continue to grow at 3.6 people per acre, we would need to more than double our current footprint of 50 sections – 259,950 population estimate by 2040 divided by 3.6 people per acre = 72,208 acres needed.
Thirty-two thousand acres to 72,208 acres or 112 sections compared to our current 50 sections.
Floods and FEMA
The vast majority if not all new development areas south of 52nd Avenue are lower than the new FEMA 100-year flood levels. While we’re working diligently to build the diversion, even if we started today, it wouldn’t be complete for 8-10 years. Even with the diversion, we need in-town protection to accommodate flows through town during a 500-year event.
We’re working to protect Fargo with dikes and floodwalls to a level of 42 feet 5 inches to avoid higher cost of flood insurance. We can complete this sooner if we don’t expand our boundaries into low-lying land south of 70th Avenue.
How do we accomplish this? First we have to acknowledge that we have to improve our land use and work to meet our goals for density. It would be helpful to follow the key priorities set out with more than 8,000 people engaged. Prioritize and develop a work plan with measures to implement the goals of Fargo GO2030.
The top 5 are:
1) Flood protection; 2) infill/strong neighborhoods; 3) arts and culture; 4) bike and pedestrian facilities; 5) quality design standards.
Strategies
What are some ideas on ways to achieve these? Here are a few of mine:

  • Leave agricultural zoning in place on perimeter until it fits to reach our density goals.
  • Be more selective on where to apply incentives and planning focus. Target new home tax incentives and city financing of infrastructure for new development to closer-in areas and infill areas that have existing infrastructure and are already covered by city services.
  • Target incentives on mixed-use and affordable housing infill and redevelopment projects in underused areas with existing infrastructure and services.
  • Continue to improve areas to encourage walking, biking, and transit and reduce need to drive. Our residents on average spend 27 percent of income on transportation, higher than 24 percent for housing. If a family has two cars instead of three by living in a area where the need for driving is reduced, they save about $9,000 annually.

Fargo’s a wonderful community. We do our best when we work and grow well together. Let’s make sure Fargo is growing well.

Thousands enjoy the biggest vehicle ever in another great Holiday of Lights Parade

Thousands of smiling faces at the Parade of Lights enjoying a guest appearance from a super cool, 60′ long vehicle on it’s way to San Francisco. Thanks to a great working relationship with locally produced New Flyer, Gregg Schildberger and our Matbus team arranged a guest visit of the 60′ Hybrid Electric articulating bus we got a chance to ride and test for a fun filled day.
Thanks to all the presenters and folks that came to our Transportation Symposium!
Fargo’s moving forward in all sorts of ways. Thanks to good work by many, we’ve added Link FMGreat Rides Bike Share, North Dakota’s first protected bike lanes, and Uber Fargo just in the past 9 months

Here’s a nice TV clip on the event. Thanks Adam, Patrick and KVRR!

Buses, Bikes Keep Rolling as Public Transit Takes Off in F-M Area

Adam Ladwig, Weekend Anchor / News Reporter, aladwig@kvrr.com
POSTED: 10:16 PM CST Nov 24, 2015 The future of public transportation rolls into Fargo.

Public transit, both two–wheeled and four–wheeled, has grown a lot in the last few years. The hope is that even more people hop on for a ride in years to come.
The bus is 60 feet of people moving power and it’s in town to show what public transportation can do.
“The Fargo–Moorhead community has really expanded its options for the way that we move, which is really exciting,” says Sara Watson Curry with Great Rides Bike Share.
Just in the last year, the LinkFM made getting around downtown easier, and cheaper, and the Great Rides Bike Share program set records for the number of riders per bike per day in its first year.
“We’re sort of the darlings in the bike share world,” adds Watson Curry.
Ridership in Fargo has increased dramatically in the last 10 years, going from 800,000 riders to 2.1 million per year.  City leaders want to use new big bad boys like this to increase ridership even more in the future.hybrid articulated 11-25-15               ^Click on the photo to see how the articulated bus pivots for a sharp turn^
“Instead of having two buses, you could almost carry as many with one bus, one driver,” says Fargo City Commissioner Mike Williams.
City officials aren’t resting on the past success of public transit.
Williams says, “We want to double it again.”
They say the benefits of public transit are two–fold. One, it’s cheaper, which is popular with the college crowd.
“Residents on average spend more on transportation than on housing. 27 percent on transportation. 24 percent on housing,” Williams explains. “Students have figure out, and so have others, that you can save a lot of money not having to drive every day.”
Two, it clears up traffic, letting everyone move around sooner.
Williams adds, “So when you see people taking transit, walking, or biking, give them a good wave because there’s more room on the road for you.” See the TV Clip
So don’t be surprised if you see more buses or bikes on the roads soon.
Fargo city leaders say it’s possible the city might purchase articulated buses in the future. As for the bike share program, there is talk of expanding across the river to MSUM and Concordia in the next couple years.
IMG_6983

Sandy's Donuts, more Sandy's Donuts, hot cocoa, to celebrate Fargo's evolving transportation options

Now that got your attention! Swing by the Fargo Public Library’s community room Tuesday November 24th at 1:30 p.m.. We’ll learn about and celebrate the many new ways to get around town, user friendly parking info and tools, housing tips and programs, and the positive impact Great Rides Bikeshare has made and how they’re all related.
You’ll also get a chance to look and step inside a super cool new sixty foot articulated bus being demonstrated at this event. This bus is being delivered to San Francisco. New Flyer’s are made in St. Cloud and use several components made right here in Fargo!newflyer_xcelsior_xn60
In one short hour, we’ll hear quick hitting updates from experts like:
 

  • Jeremy Gorden Fargo Traffic Engineer will talk about complete streets and the first protected bike lanes in Fargo and North Dakota. The progress with more on street bike facilities has helped increase number of people biking and fewer bike related accidents. NP Ave protected bike lane
  • Sara Watson Curry of Great Rides Bikeshare will talk about their national record setting, matbus inspired, student led business model and how it works. Great Rides kicked off with a grand entrance at this years St. Patricks Day parade on a 70 degree day on March 15th with over 17,000 happy folks

Great Rides at St. Patty's 2015
Just in the past year, all these cool new options to get around town.
Thanks to good work by many, Fargo’s added several new options for the way we move around our community with expanding transit, the fun, fast, and free Link FM, Great Rides BikeshareUber Fargo, and Fargo’s and North Dakota’s first protected bike lanes all just in the last 9 months.
These improvements and continuing to focus on infill, complete streets, and mixed use will make them even more efficient and easy to use.
Hope to see you on Tuesday!
cropped-space-required-to-transport-60-people.jpg
 
 
 

Growing well matters. Let's do the math update

Fargo’s in a fantastic situation and we’ve been growing for years thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that. How and where we grow matters.
I’m updating this earlier post I wrote in April 2014 with our current numbers.
Here’s an apt cartoon from Trygve Olson of the Forum:

Maybe we’re gaining some traction on improving land use? It’s hard to change the status quo but the math shows we have to do better with planning and land use if we’re going to reach Fargo’s great potential.

Some say development in new greenfields that can not be protected with certified flood protection until the diversion is finished is the development the market wants. This “market” is skewed by our current growth policies that subsidize pre-mature expansion.
Where is the market in Fargo? Realtors nationwide site cites Fargo’s 58103 as a top ten housing market in the entire country. That’s the older traditional neighborhood design area from Main Ave to 32nd Ave S.

Here’s some of this weeks articles and interviews on our need to improve land use to grow well:

Forum article on how far south should we grow? 10-26-15

KFGO News and Views Adding value with infill: 9-29-15

KFGO Joel Heitkamp interview on growing well: 4-28-14

 Some basic math shows why we need to improve our density and land use in Fargo

Fargo’s been growing for years and we’re in a fantastic situation thanks to a lot of good work by many. In the past 15 years we’ve seen a bit over 1% population growth a year, but recently Fargo’s population is accelerating three times that.
The current footprint of land in Fargo’s annexed area is just under 50 square miles with a population of about 115,000.
50 square miles = 32,000 acres divided into 115,000 pop = 3.6 people per acre.
The recent Forum article correctly cites that in 1950 Fargo had 10.7 people per acre. This is common in walkable traditional neighborhood design. For perspective, San Francisco has a smaller footprint than Fargo with over 1,000,000 people = 33 people per acre.
In Fargo’s comprehensive plan there is a goal of 9 people per acre, this is similar to the density we currently have in our popular mature existing neighborhoods like Hawthorne, Clara Barton, Horace Mann and others.
Planning Director Jim Gilmour recently informed us the that Fargo’s projected growth by 2040 is 154,170 and metro’s projected population growth by 2040 is 259,950 people.
When we do the math, we find we currently have enough land to accommodate our  population estimate and more if we achieve our 9 people per acre density goal.
32,000 acres X 9 people per acre = 288,000 population just in Fargo’s current footprint. Even if we only add two people per acre in the next 25 years would be 61,440 more people added to our current 115,000 = 175,440 people, far more than the 154,170 that is projected.
Conversely, if we continue to grow at 3.6 people per acre, we would need to more than double our current footprint of 50 sections.
259,950 pop est by 2040 divided by 3.6 people per acre = 72,208 acres needed.
32,000 acres to 72,208 acres or 112 sections compared to our current 50 sections.
The vast majority if not all new development areas south of 52nd Ave are lower than the new FEMA 100 year flood levels. While we’re working diligently to build the diversion, even if we started today, it wouldn’t be complete for 8 – 10 years. Even with the diversion, we need in town protection to accommodate flows through town during a 500 year event.
We’re working to protect Fargo with dikes and floodwalls to a level of 42′.5″ to avoid higher cost of flood insurance. We can complete this sooner if we don’t expand our boundaries into low lying land south of 70th Ave.
How do we accomplish this? First we have to acknowledge that we have to improve our land use and work to meet our goals for density. It would be helpful to follow the key priorities set out with over 8,000 people engaged. Prioritize and develop a work plan with measures to implement the goals of Fargo GO2030. The top 5 are:
#1. Flood protection
#2. Infill/strong neighborhoods
#3. Arts and Culture
#4. Bike and pedestrian facilities
#5. Quality design standards
What are some ideas on ways to achieve these? Here are a few of mine:
Leave agricultural zoning in place on perimeter until it fits to reach our density goals.
Be more selective on where to apply incentives and planning focus. Target new home tax incentives and city financing of infrastructure for new development to closer in areas and infill areas that have existing infrastructure and are already covered by city services of Fire, Police, Garbage, Street cleaning/snow removal, Forestry.
Increase incentives on mixed use and affordable housing infill and redevelopment projects in under utilized areas with existing infrastructure and services.
Continue to improve areas to encourage walking, biking, and transit and reduce need to drive. Our residents on average spend 27% of income on transportation, higher than 24% for housing. If a family has two cars instead of three by living in a area where the need for driving is reduced, they save about $9,000 annually.
Fargo’s a wonderful community. We do our best when we work and grow well together. Let’s make sure Fargo is growing well!

All aboard! Introducing Link FM Downtown Connector

Link FM is a fun, fast, and free circulator bus that connects Downtown Fargo and Moorhead starting Monday June 1st running from 7 am to 7 pm M-F and 10am – 5pm Sat.  The route will have a continuous loop starting at the Moorhead Center Mall to the Plains Art Museum and back with an average 15 minute frequency for a loop as a goal. The concept is to keep the route and operations simple and flexible enough to make it fun, fast, and free.
Unlike Matbus scheduled routes with established timetables, Link FM will stop at the designated sites only as needed to pick up or drop off passengers. If no one is at a particular stop, it’ll keep moving to the next one.
Look for the Link FM signs at these sites. Mon-Fri there are 8 designated pick-up/drop off areas from 7am – 10am starting at 7am on the east side of Moorhead Center Mall parking lot.

  • East side of parking lot of Moorhead Center Mall
  • 1st Ave at Hjemkomst intersection
  • Fargo Library
  • Gate City
  • Plains Art Museum
  • Renaissance Hall
  • Matbus Ground Transportation Center
  • Fargo Community Health

At 10am,  two additional pick-up/drop off areas on the north and south side of the Moorhead Mall until 7 pm M-F and from 10am – 5pm on Saturdays.
Link FM is another step forward to help grow the use of our Matbus system and continue the regeneration of the core of Fargo and Moorhead making better use of existing infrastructure and parking.IMG_5059
Using a bus already in our fleet, Link FM will start out with a “quiet” start, white with no wrap to begin with. We’ll be adding features over the coming weeks like local music inside and out (be ready for pop up live performers), vibrant and distinctive wrap on the outside, and revolving local art on the inside. By the first week in July, you’ll see it coming from blocks away and will want to jump aboard!
Since 2004, Matbus ridership has almost tripled to now over 2.1 million annual rides with over half in the 18 – 25 age group. Our downtowns and city cores are regenerating and community’s transportation culture is changing with more people walking, biking, and using transit that all help reduce congestion.
This circulator concept has been featured for several years in both our transit plans and  parking plans as a strategy to make better use of thousands of existing public and private parking spaces in both our revitalizing downtowns, reduce congestion, and continue to increase ridership on MATBUS.60 on a bus
This Link FM route is within walking distance of three blocks of several popular destinations and our theme is fun, fast, and free! Link FM will also help navigate around areas on NP Ave and 1St Ave corridor reconstruction and flood protection construction projects that start now and will be going on for the next few years.
Link FM will be using an existing bus and will be an addition to existing routes so will not negatively effect current riders.
It’s great working with the sub committee chaired by Moorheads Steve Ghertz, and members Nancy Otto, Dave Piepkorn, Melissa Radamacher, Matt Maslowski, Joe Nigg, Lori Van Beek, Mike Hahn, Gregg Schildberger, Matt Peterson, and Michael Redlinger.
The Fargo Commission and Moorhead Council unanimously approved this venture and are eager to see how Link FM works. Transit experts have told us it often takes 6-8 months to build ridership and we plan on giving it time and measure how much it’s used.
Both cities can decide to stop with a 30 day notice in the MOU, but we are planning for success and will make funds available in the coming budgets. The idea is both cities will budget for future funding to be made available when it’s proven to be successful with at least 15 – 20 riders per hour by the end of the 9 month trial.
 

Best city for recent grads? Boston, D.C., Madison, Austin, San Fran, with Fargo at the top

Several cool peer cities are in this list. Madison, D.C, Austin, San Francisco, Boston. Fun to see Fargo on top! The students learning, living, working, and playing downtown have helped drive the revitalization of Downtown and there are a ton of underdeveloped flat lots ripe for mixed use development.

 Continuing to target and prioritizing the core helps us recruit and retain talent. All these high rankings have a common denominator, it’s the vibrant core and opportunities to engage that differentiates us from the rest, not the anytown USA strip-malls and sparse segregated cul-de-sac developments.

 We have some new opportunities/offers to work with peer cities to leverage this further to continue to recruit and retain working and competing with some peer cities.

Let’s grow well and target areas where we get the most value and create the most interest for interesting people. http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cities-for-college-grads-2014-5?op=1

 Another example of becoming a more dynamic city is the unique student led bikeshare program announced May 16th 2014. It’s been so much fun working with them and Tom Smith for these past 3 years. This was a key initiative listed in Fargo GO2030Forum story on how Great Rides Bikeshare developed> http://www.inforum.com/event/article/id/434858/

The Great Rides Bikeshare system will be installed in the fall. You’re all invited to learn more at: https://www.facebook.com/GreatRidesBikeshare.

 Let’s keep pedaling Fargo forward!

Here’s the article in Business Insider this week:

1. Fargo, ND

Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor’s degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.

North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the past couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota’s largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo’s economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.

The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $30,104, slightly below the national median of $30,155.

 The 13 Best Cities For Brand-New College Grads

  • MAY 12, 2014, 12:20 PM
College Students Graduates GraduationOli Scarff/Getty Images

 
For people in their mid-20s to early 30s who have finished their education and are starting their careers, figuring out where to live can be difficult.
With local economies varying from place to place and recent grads potentially looking for a partner to start a family, it’s good to be around other people in your age range.
To try to figure out where newly minted young professionals should live, we evaluated the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. on a variety of measures that might be important to recent grads.
We used six measures to evaluate the 200 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. From theCensus Bureau’s 2012 American Community Survey, we took the share of the population of each city that had young adults between the ages of 20 and 34, the percent of people who had never been married as a proxy for single people, the share of the population with a bachelor’s degree or higher, the median earnings for a worker in the city, and the percentage of rental households that paid less than 35% of monthly income on housing expenses as a measure of apartment affordability.
We also took the March 2014 unemployment figures for each from the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Local Area Unemployment Statistics.
Each city was given a ranking score from 0 to 100 for each of these measures, and then those rankings were averaged together to find the final ranking.

12 (tie). Sioux Falls, SD

12 (tie). Sioux Falls, SD

Wikimedia Commons
Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls had an extremely low unemployment rate at 3.9% in March. Sioux Falls also, by one measure, has the most affordable apartment rent in the country: 71.1% of apartment households spent less than 35% of their monthly incomes on housing costs, a much higher proportion than in any of the other cities.
Something that might give a 20- or 30-something college graduate pause is that Sioux Falls has somewhat fewer highly educated people than the other cities on this list, with just 29.2% of its residents holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

12 (tie). Omaha, NE

12 (tie). Omaha, NE

REUTERS/Lucas Jackson
Investor Warren Buffett

Similar to Sioux Falls, Omaha has very low unemployment, at 4.5%, and very affordable apartments, with 63.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of monthly income on gross rent.
Unfortunately, for single college grads trying to decide where to settle down, Omaha has fewer singles than the other cities on this list, with just 32% of its population having never been married.

11. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

11. Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

Stuart Wilson/Getty Images

The Twin Cities are economically dynamic, home to Target and many other large employers. It’s not that surprising that Minneapolis and St. Paul are very well educated with 39.5% of residents having a bachelor’s or higher. Median worker earnings are solid at $36,358 a year, and unemployment is relatively low at 4.9%.
On the downside, there are fewer people in the earlier stages of their careers in Minneapolis, with just 21.1% of the population falling between 20 and 34.

10. San Francisco/Oakland, CA

10. San Francisco/Oakland, CA

Shutterstock

Over the last decade, the Bay Area has become a natural destination for ambitious and highly educated people, being the heart of the tech industry. A full 45% of San Franciscans have at least a bachelor’s degree, and median earnings for workers are a very impressive $41,265.

9. Columbus, OH

9. Columbus, OH

YouTube
Ohio State University’s marching band forms a man firing a cannon.

Columbus scored reasonably well on each of our measures. Unemployment was at 5.0%, the median worker earned $31,589, and 34.1% of residents had a bachelor’s degree or higher.

8. Seattle/Tacoma, WA

8. Seattle/Tacoma, WA

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images
Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman

Seattle has solid median worker earnings, at $36,864, and 37.7% of Seattleites hold bachelor’s degrees or advanced degrees. However, there are fewer singles than most of the other top-ranked cities, with just 32.8% of Seattleites having never been married.

7. Durham/Chapel Hill, NC

The research triangle is very well educated. A full 44.7% of the population of Durham/Chapel Hill holds at least a bachelor’s degree, as one might expect from the home of Duke and the University of North Carolina. There are also a fair number of single people in the area, with a better than average 36.3% of residents having never been married.

6. Lincoln, NE

6. Lincoln, NE

l’interdit via flickr Creative Commons

Over a quarter of the population of Lincoln falls in our young-adult age range: 25.2% are between the ages of 20 and 34. Unemployment is very low at 3.5%, but having a job is not as lucrative as in many of our other cities. Median worker earnings were just $27,100.

5. Boston, MA

5. Boston, MA

Reuters
The 2014 Boston Marathon

Boston is home to a ridiculous number of colleges, and this is reflected by the 42.9% of Bostonians with bachelor’s or advanced degrees. Jobs in Boston also pay well, with median worker earnings at $37,954.

4. Madison, WI

4. Madison, WI

U. of Wisconsin
The law building at the University of Wisconsin, Madison

Like the other college-centered cities on this list, Madison is young and well educated. Young adults between the ages of 20 and 34 make up 24.7% of Madison’s population, and 42.6% of the adult population holds at least a bachelor’s. Madison has a fairly low unemployment rate of 4.7%.

3. Austin, TX

3. Austin, TX

Flickr / Visualist Images
People walking around at Austin’s South by Southwest festival

Austin looks a lot like Madison by our measures. Just over a quarter, 25.1%, of Austinites are between 20 and 34, and 40.5% of Austin’s population have bachelor’s or advance degrees. Austin had a solid unemployment rate of 4.4% in March.

2. Washington, DC

2. Washington, DC

AP Photo

Protestors gather for the 1963 March on Washington

The capital had the highest median worker earnings of any of the 200 cities we looked at, with the median worker making $44,452, much higher than the national median of $30,155. Washington attracts the educated, with 48.2% of the adult population holding at least a bachelor’s degree.

1. Fargo, ND

Fargo had the lowest unemployment of all of the cities we looked at, with a remarkably low 3.3% rate. Fargo also has a huge number of young adults, with 28.4% of the population falling between 20 and 34. Fargoans are also more likely to be single than others, with 37.6% of the population having never been married. The city is also quite well educated, with 37.1% of Fargoans having at least a bachelor’s degree. Housing is also quite affordable, with 67.5% of renting households paying less than 35% of their incomes on housing expenses.

North Dakota as a state has seen a renaissance in the past couple of years, largely powered by the oil boom in the Bakken formation in the western part of the state. While Fargo is in the east, as North Dakota’s largest city, the boom may have had some effect on Fargo’s economy. Fargo also is the home of North Dakota State University, and we have seen many college towns on this list.

The only measure where Fargo lags behind the other cities on this list is in income. Median worker earnings were just $30,104, slightly below the national median of $30,155.

Read more: http://www.businessinsider.com/best-cities-for-college-grads-2014-5?op=1#ixzz31mcRMqiB