5 things to know today: Townhouse project, Tenant uncertainty, Gun laws, Director fired, Marathon pacer – InForum

Second Amendment

1. With a looming deadline, once-contentious north Fargo townhouse project nears completion

A deadline is drawing near for a prominent developer to complete a once-contentious northside townhouse project and avoid penalties from the city of Fargo.

But Jim Roers, CEO of Roers Development, said there won’t be a problem finishing the townhomes, two of which are listed for sale at nearly $400,000.

The seven townhomes are meant to be a buffer in a years-long, full-block development in the Roosevelt neighborhood next to North Dakota State University.

The project became the focus of a public spat in May of 2022 between Jim Roers and Fargo City Commissioner Dave Piepkorn

, after the townhomes weren’t finished by the end of 2021.

Roers said the project will meet the latest May 31 deadline, established last August in a settlement agreement with the city.

Under that agreement,

Roers would incur fees of $300 per day per unfinished townhome, with a maximum penalty of $2,100 per day if the project didn’t have a certificate of occupancy by then.

“I never questioned that we would get it done on time… I just didn’t need a gun held to my head,” Roers said.

Piepkorn said he had no comment on the townhouse project at this time.

Read more from The Forum’s Robin Huebner

2. Uncertainty looms for some tenants in Fargo’s South Plaza mall


South Plaza mall was quiet on Wednesday morning, May 17. The mall will be torn down for parking once the BLOC apartments and commercial complex is completed on the 1600 block of Fargo’s South University Drive.

Tom Stromme / The Bismarck Tribune

For half of the remaining tenants at South Plaza there’s one common theme – uncertainty.

Plans call for the aging strip mall on the 1600 block of South University Drive to be razed in 2024 and turned into a parking lot for a five-story apartment and commercial complex called BLOC.

With some exceptions, tenants have told The Forum they’re looking for answers to determine the futures of their businesses:

Do BLOC’s owners want my business?

Can I afford space in the new building?

Can I keep my business running uninterrupted?

Unlike some of his neighbors, Ross Wilhelm knew the answers to the first two questions.

It was the third question that was his tipping point.

Read more from The Forum’s Helmut Schmidt

3. Universal background checks, extreme-risk gun confiscation become Minnesota law

Tim Walz.jpg

Gov. Tim Walz

Universal background checks for firearms sales and court-issued emergency orders to confiscate guns from high-risk individuals are now Minnesota law.

Joined by gun control advocates, lawmakers and former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords at the state Capitol on Friday, Democratic-Farmer-Labor Gov. Tim Walz signed an $880 million, 500-page public safety bill with the new gun policies into law.

The governor said policymakers need to do more than offer “thoughts and prayers” after mass shootings and take action to keep guns out of the wrong hands.

“This is not about the Second Amendment. This is about the safety of our children in our communities,” he said “We need action, and in Minnesota, that action is going to happen today.”

Walz, a hunter and former Army National Guardsman who in the past has said he owns guns, once had an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. But he has since distanced himself from the gun rights group and fell out of its favor as he advocated for gun control policies.

Read more from Forum News Service’s Alex Derosier

4. Fargo finance director fired after internal investigation uncovers numerous failures

Terri Gayhart.jpg

Terri Gayhart.

Submitted photo

The city of Fargo has fired Finance Director Terri Gayhart after the city’s internal investigation uncovered allegations such as name-calling and gender bias that had employees “dreading” coming into work each day.

Fargo Chief Communications Officer Gregg Schildberger confirmed in an email to The Forum that the city terminated Gayhart’s employment on Wednesday, May 17.

Gayhart was put

on paid administrative leave

on March 31 by Fargo City Administrator Michael Redlinger, according to city records. An internal investigation then began into “reports of a toxic work environment within the finance department, as well as deficient performance as the finance director,” Redlinger wrote in the March letter.

The 41-page report from the city of Fargo released late Thursday night, May 18, found among other things that Gayhart lacked core leadership competencies, failed to support the finance team as a leader of the department and has a pattern of alienating and avoiding certain individual team members with whom she had conflict. Those team members were all female staffers, the report noted.

Read more from The Forum’s Melissa Van Der Stad

5. Fargo Marathon pacer gets weekend bonus with Friday Night 5K win


Gerad Mead of Minneapolis wins the men’s Friday Night 5K, May 19, 2023, at the Fargodome.

Finn Harrison / WDAY News.

The trip to the Essentia Fargo Marathon has been a common destination for Gerad Mead from Robbinsdale, Minn. He’s one of the pacers for the 26.2-mile route and on Saturday morning he’s going to lead those who want to finish in three hours.

The 43-year-old Mead got a little bonus a day early, winning the Friday Night 5K by a large margin. His time of 16 minutes, 32 seconds was his fastest at that distance in at least seven years.

“The weather was perfect, flat and not a lot of wind,” Mead said.

It was his second victory in three months, winning a 5K in Texas in March.

“It happens every once in a while,” Mead said.

At a variety of distances, too. He considers his best win the Dances With Dirt 50K in Baraboo, Wis., in 2018, doing that one in 4 hours, 26 minutes, 43 seconds.

Read more from The Forum’s Jeff Kolpack

Our newsroom occasionally reports stories under a byline of “staff.” Often, the “staff” byline is used when rewriting basic news briefs that originate from official sources, such as a city press release about a road closure, and which require little or no reporting. At times, this byline is used when a news story includes numerous authors or when the story is formed by aggregating previously reported news from various sources. If outside sources are used, it is noted within the story.

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