May 14--BISMARCK, N.D. -- The Bismarck City Commission approved a lease option Tuesday for the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation to build a steamboat museum where the former Meriwether's Restaurant once stood.
The foundation needs the lease option so it can look for financing for a $500,000 museum, a ticket office for the Lewis and Clark Riverboat and a small burger stand, foundation director Tracy Potter said earlier by phone. He said a 2,400 square-foot building would have enough space for a public gathering in the same place as the museum, holding at least 100 people.
Potter did not speak at the meeting.
The city's lease option requires fundraising be completed for the building by December 2016 or the lease option will be canceled.
The former Meriwether's Restaurant was condemned and torn down in 2012 because it sustained serious damage from the 2011 Missouri River flood.
Commissioners also approved a joint powers and land transfer agreement with the state for a Law Enforcement Training Center near the Bismarck landfill. The Legislature has approved funds for Phase 1 of the project through the state Highway Patrol for the current biennium. It will have an emergency vehicle driving course and indoor shooting range.
Maj. Brandon Solberg of the Highway Patrol said the agency will seek funding for the dormitory and training facility parts of the project from the 2015 Legislature.
Commissioners approved giving the Bismarck-Mandan Development Association$200,000 from the City Vision Fund -- $166,985 in new funding and $33,015 in 2013 carry-over funding. The committee also recommended the funding be approved.
Brian Ritter, executive director of the BMDA, said the request represented a "trend of decreasing support for the organization" and less dependence on city funding. He said in 2008, the BMDA received $550,000 in support.
"We have made a conscious effort in counsel with the city commission to reduce those requests," he said. With a new strategic plan and intense reorganization, he said the funds will be used to deal with growth.
He said the BMDA's strategic goals include attracting and expanding businesses, making the metro area a career destination, and attracting and keeping talent.
Ritter said a separate finance committee will re-examine how the program funds itself -- what it expects from public and private sector investors. Efficiency of the organization will be evaluated by a committee, Ritter said.
Commissioner Parrell Grossman said the BMDA has reinvented itself as the commission requested one year ago and came back with a new funding proposal. "You received our message. We are appreciative of your willingness to adapt," he said.
Commissioners asked City Traffic Engineer Mark Berg to return to the May 27 meeting with a proposal to place flashing beacons at north Washington Street, near the Liberty Elementary School site where children will be crossing. They want to slow traffic and lower the risk to the children, they said.
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