Trying to wrap your mind around all aspects of infrastructure is a dizzying task. From roads, to buildings, power, pipes, water treatment and culverts, it all counts in the infrastructure column.
Part of being a Main Street Community is remembering to ask ourselves how we can make our infrastructure smarter. The word smarter is pretty broad. Sometimes the width of a word can make it hard to apply in real life. For example, what does smart infrastructure mean for our asphalt?
I think the idea of smart infrastructure is an exercise in dreaming big but starting with achievable goals. Asphalt seems as good of a place as any to start.
Roads are the lifeblood of a county like ours. Everything we produce or consume travels. Members of our County Commission and officers in our 45 Townships have done a good job of making sure our roads are safe and maintained. But as residents of Bottineau County, we should be asking ourselves what can we do to make our roads smarter? Can we engage better land use practices to positively impact township roads and culverts? Should we be including pavers or pervious surfaces into our street design? This is important to keep in mind as our population and needs continue to grow.
One of the primary goals of Main Street is to encourage communities like ours to look at future development and growth intelligently. Asphalt is a part of this. The more asphalt we lay, the more roadway must be maintained. Growth is important, but having a good vision for the future helps make it smarter. Having a community that chose to improve and expand the school in its current location signals that we are on the right track. Keeping a school in town helps with “infill” or using areas with existing infrastructure to meet needs. Working with businesses to support efforts to fill existing buildings is a focus point for the Bottineau Economic Development Corporation (EDC).
Another hot topic related to infill is housing. The Bottineau Comprehensive Plan cites studies that estimate our population in 2033 to be 2,722 and the following decade, at 2,833. As we prepare to fold in new residents and workforce, we must find the balance between land use, cost, infrastructure expansions and need. I would recommend taking a minute to read the Comprehensive Plan so you have a good idea of what our community will be facing and how we can best prepare for the future together.
Our leaders have done a good job positioning us for the future and making smart infrastructure a part of the conversation. But we can all do more. I encourage everyone to get a little creative and think about new ways to make our infrastructure smarter. Regardless if you are a developer and working on ways to use existing buildings for future needs, or if you are a homeowner who decides to invest in LED lights to reduce your electricity draw, it all makes a difference. The beauty of working toward the goal of smart infrastructure is the fact that every single person in our community can contribute to this. That’s a dizzying, and thrilling idea for sure.
If you would like to learn more about smart infrastructure or read the Bottineau Comprehensive Plan contact WhitneyGonitzke at the Bottineau EDC. Gonitzke is the Executive Director of the Bottineau County EDC and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 701-228-3922