At the first of three town hall meetings meant to assess the future of the site of the city’s current airport, there was a general consensus that the land should be used for a mix of public facilities like schools and parks and private enterprises.
A crowd that quickly became standing-room-only at the Williston ARC weighed in on the direction the city should take when redeveloping Sloulin Field.
“Tonight is really to talk about Sloulin Field and what the potential is for it,” Cardon Global CEO Don Cardon said in his address to the public. “This is really a city that’s owned by the people that live there, that have invested here and are raising children here.”
A brief presentation mapped out similar regions’ redevelopment projects, which offered quality of life improvements from retail to large green spaces that could accommodate bike trails. Visuals were offered for reference, but community members were advised that plans would undergo many changes during the planning process — in large part to include their vision of Williston.
“From beginning to end, an aggressive schedule for the XWA puts us at the end of 2019,” Cardon said. “Realistically I think it’s a spring 2020...weather implications can slow things down, there’s a lot of factors. We’ve got three years for planning.”
Cardon explained that his Arizona-based firm was brought in to offer guidance for Williston city leaders instead of selling the decommissioned land off to the highest offer.
“They could’ve just sold the property, but there’s not a lot of investors that want to buy 850 acres of land that they can’t get title to for three years,” Cardon said. “The city wants to maximize the value of that land for you and for the whole community.”
Kurt Culbertson, CEO and chairman of Design Workshop offered some site plans, one of which could accommodate a large industry or manufacturing plant that would give the region an opportunity to diversify from oil.
Culbertson posed 20 questions that would allow constituents, with the largest demographic being over 46 years old, to give their answers in real time.
There was a large consensus of support that the land should be used for public opportunities like parks and schools, and opportunities for private economic development. Of the 118 voters, 72 liked the idea of trails connecting through the development.
Many were in favor of family-friendly amenities like an outdoor amphitheatre, an event center or an attraction that would draw regional interest.
“We’re trying to lay a vision and invite the private sector to come in and help advance that vision that you all have participated in and established,” Cardon said.
The second meeting is slated on June 7 and the final meeting on Sept. 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Williston Area Recreation Center. Cardon Global will then draft a final version that will require approval by 2018.