Five FM Metro Mayors answer questions at State of the Cities event

Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff
Photo by: WDAY Radio Staff

(Fargo, ND) -- The mayors of Fargo, Moorhead, West Fargo, Dilworth and Horace gathered to share details on events happening in their cities. Additionally, the leaders all answered questions asked by the audience of nearly 600 attendees of various city and business leaders across the region.

A Growing Region

Growth is a key point all the cities focused on at the meeting today, both its pros and cons.

Fargo Mayor Tim Mahoney says the city is continuing to grow, and they now have guidance as to where they can continue to expand. Mayor Mahoney cited the completion of the 2024 Growth Plan and continued data collection from MetroCOG as items they can point to when making decisions about construction in Fargo. He additionally said there may be more projects turned away by developers that do not provide enough housing opportunities, community engagement activities, and other priorities in new construction areas. 

Moorhead Mayor Shelly Carlson joked about how they will further promote orange as a city color, a symbol of the Spuds, by adding much more construction orange beginning in early 2024. Mayor Carlson highlighted projects like the Downtown Community Center and Public Library, the reconstruction of nine city blocks in the downtown area, and several other projects as a testament to Moorhead's growth. 

West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis says they are continuing to grow in their population, but are also celebrating several public safety milestones. This includes the addition of body-worn cameras, additional armaments, and a virtual training center for the police department. Mayor Dardis also highlighted the addition of City Administrator Dustin Scott as a highlight for 2023. 

Horace Mayor Korey Peterson says they are expected to reach 5,000 in population by the end of the month, which he says is over double the number compared to 2017. 

Dilworth Mayor Chad Olson said they are excited to begin the construction of the new fire station for the city, which is expected to break ground in April of 2024. Additional opportunities for projects include a possible redesign submission for the highway 10 corridor, and finding additional ways to collaborate with local leaders to address community-wide problems. 

Housing and Homelessness

Several attendees asked how city leadership aims to build the homes needed to sustain the growth projected by administration staff.  The mayors mentioned multiple times the need to construct housing for an estimated 16,000 households worth of people that are predicted to move into the F-M metro over the next decade. This is in addition to multiple low vacancy rates for housing in Fargo and West Fargo, which are currently at 4% and 2% respectively. 

Housing not only needs to have meaningful strides in the next 10 years according to each of the city officials, but it is also needed for the homeless populations that currently reside in the community. Downtown Engagement Center officials have said in previous conversations the city and community need to be ready for the influx of people expected to move into the metro area. 

To address both housing and homelessness, the cities say they are looking for more ways to expand. Mayor Mahoney says Fargo will begin accepting projects that look to be more efficient with the space being used. This includes taller apartment buildings with first floor or underground parking, to make room for additional living space in nearby lots. Mayors Mahoney and Dardis also cited an upcoming conversation with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum about solutions to housing in the cities.

Mayor Korey Peterson says Horace currently does not have any apartment buildings at this time, but said that is likely to change. Peterson says they are looking to approve five apartment buildings to accommodate renters in their housing market.