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Bismarck Riverfront Revitalization Plan effort gets $250,000 state grant

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The Bismarck Riverfront Revitalization Plan will create a master plan to guide development along the Missouri River in the Bismarck area. The focus of the effort will stretch from northwest of Bismarck between state Highway 1804 near Misty Waters south to the confluence of Apple Creek and the river near the University of Mary. This view of the river valley is looking southwest above River Road.

A proposal to create a master plan to guide development along the Missouri River in the Bismarck area has received a $250,000 grant from the state Commerce Department.

The agency is giving the money to the Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation, which is spearheading the Bismarck Riverfront Revitalization Plan.

The funds will go to devising a master plan for tourism development along one section of the river, according to the grant application. The plan will focus on improving the connection between existing tourism spots, improving public access to the riverfront, identifying locations for commercial use and tourism programming, and recommending three "game changer" projects that will create the most impact in the local tourism industry.

Fort Abraham Lincoln Foundation Executive Director Aaron Barth said the announcement that the group was awarded the grant was "a wonderful email to receive." The foundation is waiting to receive guidelines for the funding to help determine next steps. Barth did not specify a timeline for the plan.

The Missouri River is the original Main Street of North Dakota, Barth said. The portion of the riverfront stretching from Misty Waters north of Bismarck to the confluence of Apple Creek and the river near the University of Mary south of Bismarck was a thriving center even before the arrival of the railroad, he said.

"It really is the gem of the state," Barth said.

The plan received letters of support from the city of Bismarck, development group Denizen Partners and Dakota Climbing Co., which is looking at building an indoor climbing facility in the area.

The Bismarck City Commission approved a 10% match of grant funding in September to meet a state requirement that the community also contribute. That money will come from the city's tourism and visitors fund.

Mayor Steve Bakken has been a proponent of developing the riverfront.

"It's an investment in our waterfront and our community," he said.

Four other projects received tourism planning grants from the Commerce Department:

  • The Bison World project in Jamestown was awarded $400,000 to support design and planning for the proposed theme park.
  • Medora was awarded $150,000 to develop a master plan for potential attraction expansions.
  • The Center for Exploration project in Grand Forks was awarded $100,000 to help develop a children's museum.
  • The International Peace Garden on the U.S.-Canada border north of Dunseith was awarded $100,000 for a strategic plan.

For more information, go to ndgov.link/Tourism-Planning-Grant.

Reach Sam Nelson at 701-250-8264 or sam.nelson@bismarcktribune.com.

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