The State of The City of Fargo - 2022
CELEBRATING 150 YEARS OF FAR MORE
"From our humble roots as a railroad town to our steady growth into a thriving and diversified metro, we've come so far, but we're just getting warmed up"
"The City of Fargo is proud to offer this action packed recap of the last year and a real plan for the year ahead. This 2022 State of The City is very special for us, as it celebrates the 150th year of Fargo's existence. From our humble roots as a railroad town to our steady growth into a thriving and diversified metro, we've come so far! But we're just getting warmed up. How about this? This giant hole in the ground behind me will very soon be our very own Lake Fargo, which will provide recreational opportunities for all. In full recognition of our storied past and a future without limits, Fargo has identified four overarching themes which unite our public services and a commitment to the Fargo residents and businesses which make all these efforts possible and meaningful:
- Leading the Region
- Planning & Improving
- Thinking Forward
- Working For You, Always"
-Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney
LEADING THE REGION
"It takes a 24/7, 365 commitment to service to solidify yourself as a regional leader. In Fargo, you've got that and more, from all of us."
"It takes a 24/7, 365 commitment to service to solidify yourself as a regional leader. And in Fargo, you've got that and more, from all of us. Fargo's commitment to street level excellence, invaluable metro and regional partnerships and exciting success stories showcases what it means to us as we proudly lead this region. From right here, the future site for Fargo Fire Station Number 8 to major advancements in large scale infrastructure projects, The City of Fargo is poised to continue its trajectory as the Upper Midwest’s hottest city."
- Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney
Street Level Excellence
- We know that infrastructure drives success and we’re committed to protecting taxpayers’ investments into roadways by continually engaging in intricate and scientific pavement assessment processes to address minor repairs before they turn major.
- Fargo is leading the way by continuing to make major roadways even safer for pedestrians through our 32nd Avenue facelift which will reduce instances of speeding and add trees.
- We are responding to growth by pushing forward on the 64th Avenue overpass, which will be ready to serve our residents as well as big projects such as the career academy and the new Fargo Sports Complex.
- Embracing technology innovations to improve safety is a major priority in Fargo. We just introduced remote-controlled lawnmowers to use on steep embankments along and near roadways this year.
- The Fire Department’s drones and their high-quality thermal imaging are preventing and protecting against the loss of life during major fires, identifying hotspots within buildings and protecting nearby properties from the spread of flames.
- We know that neighborhoods are the core building blocks of our community and are doubling down on code enforcement to tackle dangerous and blighted properties. And now, in conjunction with the Core Neighborhoods Plan, efforts will focus on addressing the root of issues before they snowball into major challenges.
- The utility box cover program will be dramatically expanded in 2022, bringing public art not only to the downtown neighborhood, but throughout all of Fargo.
- Fargo is proud to have dedicated foresters on our team to oversee and nurture our urban forest. Here’s a fun fact – in the last year alone, our crews planted more than 1,700 trees of 37 different species. This commitment is one of many reasons Fargo has been recognized as a Tree City USA for more than 40 consecutive years.
- We are ensuring your streets are lit – and lit well – to promote safety. For the last seven years, Fargo has methodically utilized geographic information systems data and maps to identify areas where proper lighting was lacking and install street lighting. The final project within this plan was successfully completed in 2021.
- A growing city requires an evolving approach to successfully serving it. Fargo Public Works is advancing on its new Southside fueling station. In addition to the current Northside fueling station, this new station would produce more efficiencies when refueling equipment.
- A commitment has been made in the 2022 budget to support an additional snow removal route, as well as an additional motor-grader, to ensure Team Fargo is equipped with the resources needed to conquer snowfall around the clock and ensure you can safely hit the roads sooner.
- The planning for Fargo Fire Station Number 8 in south Fargo will continue to progress in 2022. This new station will be crucial in adding capacity (and faster response times) to provide critical emergency response services to the rapidly growing Fargo area.
Partnerships and Success Stories
- Through its strong and enduring metro partnerships, The City of Fargo is continually seeking ways to improve. It is important to reflect on the successful partnerships and what made them truly effective.
- For example, the new Spirit of the Sandbagger archway in Downtown Fargo was funded entirely by the Fargo Lions Club using private donations. This piece of art along the riverfront honors the selfless service and commitment of our City’s past sandbagging flood fighters. This beautiful idea became reality by embracing public-private partnerships.
- An enhanced MATBUS route in the Industrial Park was a big success of 2021. In what began as a pilot project organized through the United Way, this route provides daily transportation for Industrial Park workers and is the latest addition to the MATBUS service map. More than 5,000 customers utilize MATBUS each day.
- The regionalization of the Fire Department Training Academy is another way Fargo utilizes its metro partnerships to provide more service for lower costs. By combining efforts with West Fargo Fire, training costs are reduced and skillsets are standardized, making mutual aid events even more successful.
- Our community values education, from preschool to adult education and Fargo families are fortunate to have high achieving public and private schools available to our students. In recent years, all of our local schools have been navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, changing protocols and instructional delivery models when necessary to ensure students can learn in a safe and effective environment.
- A majority of The City of Fargo is served by the Fargo Public School District, which educates around 11,300 students in kindergarten through grade 12. In fall 2021, Fargo Public Schools opened the Explorer Academy, an addition on to Lewis & Clark Elementary School. The Explorer Academy is North Dakota’s first K-8 special education day public school with integrated project-based and gross motor program opportunities. The Explorer Academy environment was designed to meet students at their level of need rather than having them fit into traditional academic settings.
- Another success story is the growth and development of Aldevron. This Fargo-based medical research corporation helps fortify the community as the regional leader in the medical and technology industries. The City played a role in its development through the offering of targeted tax incentives to improve its economy, create a larger and sustainable tax base and spur the creation of high-paying jobs.
PLANNING & IMPROVING
"The City of Fargo is planning for the future by continuing to improve its award winning services."
"The City of Fargo understands the value and the importance of effectively managing its growth, planning ahead and being proactive by being thoughtful with our investments across the city, including the leveraging of our strong investment into public safety with tools like these body cameras. The City of Fargo is planning for the future by continuing to improve its award winning services."
- Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney
- The Department of Strategic Planning & Research recently led an update of its economic development incentives policy. Among several new features were review and clawback procedures to bolster the monitoring of incentivized projects to ensure they are delivering for taxpayers.
- With that goal in mind, The City has engaged a national consultant, TischlerBise, to conduct a comparative analysis of its incentive tools in relation to other similarly-sized communities. Benchmarking and embracing a holistic look at these tools will further improve our policies and processes.
- The City is engaged in a study with Baker-Tilly to closely examine its current planning processes using seven geographically-specific areas of our community and the costs of providing services to those areas. Upon the completion, the study will provide the City with a dynamic and robust matrix to ensure it is being proactive and progressive in its planning and development of neighborhoods.
- Following the completion of the Land Development Code Diagnostic, the City is issuing a request for proposals for a significant update to the land development code to ensure the code plans intelligently for land that is undeveloped--especially on the outskirts of town--and sets the vision for these developments.
- In the next year, the Fargo Public Library will be kicking off a new facilities master plan, which will analyze the three current library facilities to ensure continued success. The plan will also identify the optimal location, size and type of potential future library facilities.
A Focus on Transparent and Intelligent Community Policing
- The need for every resident and visitor of Fargo to feel safe and secure within this community is a top priority of City leaders and employees. This is precisely why a continued strong investment has been made in transparent and intelligent community policing.
- Under the leadership of Chief David Zibolski, the Fargo Police Department underwent a major reorganization in 2021. Captain positions were reintroduced, along with the creation of the assistant chief position. The restructure also created new divisions to provide more return on investment on the neighborhood level, permanent detective positions and new paths for advancement. The Department’s restructure occurred in conjunction with an overhaul of its vision, mission and values. Each element was chosen with officer input, ensuring intrinsic value to the unifying goals and ideals.
- The Fargo Police Department is focusing on intelligent and data-driven policing. New crime analyst positions apply proactive measures to identify crime trends and address potential solutions to prevent additional crimes before they occur.
- A major investment has also been made in integrated body worn cameras, vehicle cameras, interview room cameras and Tasers for the Police Department. Body worn cameras record high quality video and audio of interactions between police and members of the public, ensuring objective accounts of interactions are available after the fact to protect residents and the officers.
- Not only does Fargo do big things, we also build big things. The Solid Waste Department is reclaiming the former Fargo Landfill and applying a geosynthetic liner to prevent leaching and toxins from entering the soil, while also increasing the life of the landfill.
- Major interior and exterior renovations of the Downtown MATBUS Ground Transportation Center were completed over the last two years. Largely funded through federal funds, these renovations provide a safer, more efficient and future-focused experience for passengers.
- The Red River Regional Dispatch Center Facility will be relocated in 2022 to help address capacity challenges. In addition, the new facility will be less vulnerable to major disasters such as train derailments, ensuring the vital services are uninterrupted.
- Newman Outdoor Field (home to the FM RedHawks and NDSU Baseball) is receiving major upgrades--from a lighting update that will reduce stray light pollution by more than 50% to improvements to rooftop HVAC units, press box windows and joint sealing.
- The FARGODOME turf is being fully replaced with new state-of-the-art artificial grass. The new turf will create operational efficiencies, making it easier to move and remove, while also ensuring the champion Bison Football team has a top notch surface to crush the competition on.
- Broadway Square and RDO Tower continue to be activated more and more frequently for impactful community events. These additions to Downtown Fargo have become a new natural gathering place for residents and visitors.
- Another soon-to-be magnet for community gathering is the planned pedestrian bridge over Second Street North. A consultant has been identified to make this largely federally-funded and programmed piece of infrastructure a reality. The new bridge will link pedestrians with the emerging riverfront.
"Regardless of the type or scale of the challenge, Fargo always steps up and rises to the occasion by tackling big things head-on, facilitating development and embracing innovation..."
"Regardless of the type or scale of the challenge, Fargo always steps up and rises to the occasion by tackling big things head-on, facilitating development and embracing innovation. Like here at the FARGODOME, where we're working as a team to look into some major updates to improve the customer experience for concerts, for events and for our beloved Bison football games. It's just another way The City Fargo is looking forward to develop a successful game plan for the next 150 years."
- Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney
- 2021 was the first time the City needed to implement its Drought Management plan by asking residents to reduce their water consumption. When called to act, our people answered and managed to reduce water consumption by more than 13%.
- Permanent relief is on the way as the Red River Valley Water Supply Project began construction last year. When complete, this critical piece of drought-mitigation infrastructure will transport 74,000 gallons of water per minute from Western North Dakota and span nearly 170 miles.
- On the other end of the climate spectrum is flooding. In 2021, The City of Fargo and its partners achieved a major milestone in its pursuit of permanent flood protection by reaching financial close with the builder of the FM Diversion Project. The project is now under construction and, soon, sandbags will be a thing of the past.
- Not only is Fargo’s climate resiliency region-leading, its economic resiliency has been equally impressive. Permit count and overall values seen in 2021 outpaced the year before – a great sign for the construction and development industries.
- As an epicenter for multiple industries, Fargo was recognized nationally in 2021 as one of the best places to start a career and to start a family. It also earned WalletHub’s distinction as the number three Happiest City in the entire nation.
- If you have driven on the north end of Fargo, you may have noticed construction near the regional Water Reclamation Facility. This $150-million dollar expansion will further improve the facility and set it up for decades of growth. When complete, the plant’s capacity will double and far exceed clean water standards.
- The FARGODOME is analyzing how best to plan for the future to retain its regional competitive advantage. The Dome celebrates its 30th birthday in 2022 and is looking to improve its guest experiences with major expansions and updates including the addition of more women’s restrooms, a wider variety of seating, an additional concourse to make game-day and concert experiences even better and more.
- This isn’t the only effort to further cement Fargo as the regional arts leader. Fundraising efforts for a new Performing Arts Center will kick off in 2022. The opportunities are exciting to imagine as we examine the beautiful Performing Arts Centers of our peers and other regional leaders. This center could become yet another destination within the crown jewel of the upper Midwest.
- It doesn’t get much bigger than the under-construction Southwest Regional Retention Pond. “Lake Fargo,” a collaboration between The City of Fargo, The Fargo Park District and North Dakota Game & Fish Department, will be a 100-million gallon stormwater collection pond and recreational lake. The possibilities for the lake are exciting, including canoeing, kayaking, fun playgrounds and disc golf—and even sustainable fishing.
- You can’t talk about big things without mentioning the new Amazon Fulfillment Center in North Fargo. The one-million square foot warehouse is the state’s largest building after being completed in late 2021. Construction on the building was completed in less than a year thanks in part to incredible collaborative efforts with City departments. The facility will infuse millions of dollars into the local economy each year and has created already hundreds of jobs with competitive benefits.
- Following the demolition of the fire-ravaged Mid-America Steel Site along 2nd Street, the City remains future-focused as it progresses on its Riverfront TIF and Redevelopment Plan. The Department of Planning and Development is engaging in a study of stakeholders and residents to determine the best use for the property. This, coupled with a Tax-Incremented Finance District along the riverfront, will spur development and catalyze private investment to revitalize some of the most valuable land in the region.
- In 2021, the Core Neighborhoods Plan was developed in collaboration with key stakeholders; 2022 is the year to begin implementing it. A substantial investment is being made into enacting this long term roadmap for neighborhood success, including the design of a new housing rehab program.
- The City is working to replicate the Mercantile Ramp success story into a similar project by transforming a parking lot on NP Avenue into a new multi-use building featuring a parking ramp at its core. This project will be partially funded from the sale of the former Island Park Ramp. The sale will also help fund the 68-stall expansion to the Civic Ramp located in the heart of Downtown Fargo
- Other City-owned property to be sold early this year include the former Fargo Cass Public Health and the Fargo School District Annex with several exciting proposals for redevelopment being considered.
- The Lashkowitz High Rise has towered over Fargo’s downtown riverfront for decades, but the aging facility will be demolished in 2022 by the Fargo Housing Authority. The residents of the High Rise have been moved to newer, safer long-term housing. The decision to demolish rather than rehab was made after the Housing Authority considered the costs and long-term ramifications of each option.
- Investments in several cutting edge technologies are making operations more efficient and better customer-focused in Fargo, including:
- The implementation of videoconferencing at Fargo Municipal Court to allow virtual attending of court.
- The installation of an electric vehicle charger within the City Hall parking lot.
- Integration of real-time chat during public meetings to ensure residents have the ability to virtually contribute to their governmental decision-making processes.
- Debuting a new online portal to process open record requests.
- Intensive efforts to bolster cyber security and 24/7 monitoring of computer network resources.
- Conversions to LED lights are occurring throughout City facilities including the Downtown Library, Transit Maintenance Facility and the Ground Transportation Center. These lights can cut operating costs by as much as 40% and can last up to five times longer than traditional lights. Additionally, high pressure sodium street lights are being replaced with LEDs, leading to wattage decreases. The goal is to stretch the utility bill monthly fees collected for street lighting and make your tax dollars stretch further.
WORKING FOR YOU, ALWAYS
"I mean it when I say, we're here for you."
"We're proud to impact your lives each day…protecting our residents, planting trees, responding to fires, offering cleanup week, moving mountains of snow and patching potholes. Those are the things that matter most, and that is a street level excellence you can expect in this city. I mean it when I say, we're here for you. And through it all, we encourage resident involvement and feedback, always. Team Fargo is dedicated to serving its people. We foster citizen engagement and empower our employees and build a social infrastructure to advance the ultimate goal of providing award-winning services faster, in a more efficient and equitable way. Fargo is working for you always"
- Mayor Dr. Timothy Mahoney
Citizen Involvement + Listening to our Residents
- Citizen involvement is incredibly important to the continued growth and wellbeing of Fargo City government. The City never stops listening to its people. In 2021, Public Works and Vector Control sponsored scientific polling to survey the Fargo community to ensure current practices for vector control activities (including aerial spraying) were in line with the majority opinion and desires of the community. We want and need to hear from you.
- The Sustainability and Resiliency Committee is entering its second year of existence and will continue making recommendations to the City Commission for actions and policy related to climate resiliency, renewable energy, emission reduction, energy efficiency and environmental stewardship.
- The Liquor Control Board has been reformatted to transition City staff members from voting members to advisory roles. This new system empowers objective and community-focused input from new resident voting members.
- 2022 will see the inception of the citizen-driven Police Oversight Committee. This is a critical step forward for modern community policing in the most dynamic city in the region. The committee will be appointed and trained in police operations to provide an additional layer of public safety accountability. It will include residents from a variety of backgrounds to ensure everyone feels represented and valued.
- The Fargo City Commission will continue to dedicate the first 30 minutes of each City Commission meeting to the resident comment period. This time for listening and learning allows policymakers to hear comments from residents on a wide array of topics each meeting.
- This was a big year for Team Fargo. Each year, we celebrate milestone anniversaries in increments of five years and in 2021, we recognized 170 employees who together have invested 2,585 years of service to the residents of Fargo.
- Just as we are proud to retain current employees, we incredibly humbled to see individuals retiring after a full and rewarding career with Team Fargo. This allows for the promotion and introduction of new employees to share their expertise to improve our services. This past year, we were proud to welcome new leaders in Inspections, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, Facilities Management and Emergency Management.
- The Fargo Finance Department played a major role in prudently and intelligently using federal COVID-19 relief funds to provide major new services to residents at little to no local cost. Major investments in the programs and capital for the Planning and Development Department, Police Department and Fargo Cass Public Health were made possible through this work.
- Fargo Cass Public Health’s outreach and booster rollouts have been incredible, as staff makes concerted efforts to follow up with initial consumers of FCPH-administered COVID vaccines to ensure they can get boosted when ready. With these efforts coupled with our private health systems, it is no wonder Cass County is among the highest vaccination rates in the state.
- The City strives to ensure its social infrastructure investment is also prioritized. The Downtown Engagement Center offers critical services and resources to those experiencing homelessness and substance use crises. It also minimizes unnecessary police interactions with vulnerable populations, reduces incarceration rates and lessens community medical costs.
- The City’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Director helped coordinate and lead a Liberian business community summit in 2021. The effort was in coordination our metro peer cities and non-governmental organizations to connect new Americans with the resources needed to be successful and prosperous.
- The Harm Reduction Division of Fargo Cass Public Health continues to make a profound impact in this community. In January through November 2021, 472 successful opioid overdose reversals using NARCAN were reported by Fargo Cass Public Health’s syringe services program. The Harm Reduction Division has also distributed 85% more NARCAN in the first half of 2021 than it did in the previous six months. These stats indicate the profound need in our community for these services and the impact they are having on those going through substance use challenges.
- An increased emphasis has been placed in the newly revamped Economic Development Incentives Policy to encourage development of affordable housing. This, along with the demolition of antiquated structures like the high-rise and older duplexes, is part of a concerted effort by The City to modernize public housing and provide high level services and living spaces to our fixed-income residents.
- Our senior population is continually growing, and encouraging the development of mixed rate housing is a top priority. The Elliot Place project and former Kmart location are two such examples of where we will see this need being addressed in the near future.
It is without question that we can unequivocally assure you…the State of The City of Fargo is strong.
LET'S GROW TOGETHER IN BEING FAR MORE.
"This past year was a momentous one for The City of Fargo and every member of this community. Challenges were tackled head-on and success stories were celebrated. The near future will bring some great things. As we look to the opportunities of 2022, let us not forget our history and how Fargo differentiated itself as The Regional Leader. It was by the determination, passion and strength of the people of Fargo we have found tremendous success.
"Now that we have celebrated the first 150 years of this beautiful community, on behalf of the Fargo City Commissioners, I encourage everyone to consider how their actions - no matter how big or how small they may seem - can truly help continue to cement Fargo as a shining star and a place people are proud to call their home.
"Let’s grow together in being Far More."