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Several North Dakota Capitol projects in works, including governor's residence kitchen
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Several North Dakota Capitol projects in works, including governor's residence kitchen

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About $380,000 in projects on the North Dakota Capitol grounds are set to wrap up early this summer, including a design to nip pervasive kitchen odors in the governor's residence.

Curb replacements around the Capitol mall and other concrete work near the building costing $230,000 are set to be complete later this month, Facility Management Director John Boyle said Wednesday.

The concrete work includes replacing a drive lane near the Capitol's west entry and sidewalk near the Judicial Wing. The work might go into mid-July if concrete is not readily available.

Set to wrap up by month's end are about $150,000 of improvements to the governor's residence to address noisy acoustics in the home's formal event space and poor ventilation of the lower-level kitchen.

Money for all of the projects comes from a state building fund.

Governor's residence

The home's problems have been known for at least two years. Gov. Doug Burgum and first lady Kathryn Burgum moved into the $4.9 million, 13,700-square-foot residence in March 2018.

Boyle said the coronavirus pandemic and supply chain issues delayed the fixes. Acoustical panels to absorb bouncing noise from hard surfaces in the formal space arrived only a few weeks ago. 

State Facility Management Director John Boyle in June 2020 discusses planned improvements to the governor's residence.

Cooking smells permeate to the formal event space.

"That aroma comes into that space, so if you were to come in the front door for that event, be it a sit-down dinner, you would know what was for supper before anyone told you because you would smell it," Boyle said.

An engineer had to design a solution for the kitchen ventilation, which involves extracting the cooking air and bringing in and conditioning fresh air from outside. The fix involves installing a small mechanical unit on the home's north side.

ADA upgrades

Additionally, Facility Management has hired J2 Studio Architecture + Design, of Bismarck, for upgrades to the Capitol for compliance with standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The 2021 Legislature budgeted $750,000 for the improvements throughout the 87-year-old building after a 2020 study found numerous areas out of compliance.

Facility Management also will work closely with a panel of top lawmakers on the upgrades, much of which include doors and audio/visual components of legislative committee rooms.

Some improvements will go beyond the ADA, such as a family bathroom, but that work might not come for "six months down the road," Boyle said.

"We want to make sure we have enough money to take care of all the ADA issues," he said. Fluctuating material cost estimates are a heavy factor, he added.

State lawmakers this session and last year heard from people with disabilities who have difficulty moving about the Capitol, especially in restrooms.

The bill for the upgrades directs the Office of Management and Budget to complete the improvements "as soon as possible."

Reach Jack Dura at 701-223-8482 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.

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