Planning continues for Buffalo City Park

Planning continues for Buffalo City Park Main Photo

16 Apr 2021


Written By: Keith Norman | 

Local and state officials work on the next steps of planning the Buffalo City Park.

An amendment to the North Dakota Department of Commerce appropriations bill is intended to help the planned Buffalo City Park become reality, according to Sen. Terry Wanzek, R-Jamestown, author of the amendment.

"It is meant to be a few dollars to help the park in Jamestown," he said. "... to show the State Investment Board this is a good project."

The Buffalo City Park is a planned $60 million cultural and entertainment park planned for Jamestown on land near Interstate 94. The idea came from discussions on the best way to utilize the Frontier Village and World's Largest Buffalo monument. If the project proceeds, it requires about a year of design and planning and two years of construction.

The amendment provides a $5 million grant to an economic agency that meets certain qualifications.

Those qualifications include securing a loan through the Legacy Infrastructure Fund established by House Bill 1425 which was recently signed into law by Gov. Doug Burgum, entering into a lease of state-owned land for an event and entertainment venue and raising $5 million in matching funds from "non-state" sources.

The amendment was added to Senate Bill 2018 in the House of Representatives. If approved by the House, it would be part of discussions in a conference committee before final action.

Wanzek said the amendment doesn't specify Jamestown or the planned Buffalo City Park but is specific enough to apply to that project.

House Bill 1425 specifies 10% of the Legacy Fund be invested in projects located in North Dakota. The Buffalo City Park is considered one of the promising projects for the program, according to Jon Goodfread, North Dakota insurance commissioner and one of the backers of House Bill 1425.

The land where the planned Buffalo City Park could be located is owned by the North Dakota State Hospital and leased to the National Buffalo Museum as buffalo pasture. Transferring the land to the Buffalo City Park project would require action by the North Dakota Legislature.

The funds would not be payable to whatever organization manages the Buffalo City Park until the completion of construction, Wanzek said. At that time, the $5 million grant, coupled with the $5 million in matching funds, would be used as capital as the park begins operations.

The bill also serves another purpose.

"When they go to the State Investment Board, they would have the first year's funding," Wanzek said. "It would show support from local businesses and from the state Legislature."

Organizing that local support is falling to the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corp., according to Connie Ova, CEO of the JSDC.

"We are looking at what is the next phase," she said. "... the farther we get down the road, the harder it will be for the State Investment Board to say come back when you have more information."

The JSDC Executive Board met in a closed executive session on Wednesday. The JSDC Board of Directors will also meet to discuss the next steps for the JSDC.