BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The Legislature will determine if a last-minute proposal for a state-financed amusement and theme park alongside a serious interstate could be an financial boon for an space with little else to supply, or if it could do nothing greater than take taxpayers for a trip.
The concept that’s been quietly tucked into the state Commerce Division’s finances within the waning weeks of the legislative session would offer $65 million in loans and grants for the proposed locally-run facility on state-owned land adjoining to Interstate 94 close to the prevailing Nationwide Buffalo Museum in Jamestown, which is about halfway between Fargo and Bismarck.
Jamestown-area lawmakers pushing the mission say they’re already being mocked by some colleagues for the proposal’s eye-popping price ticket and for the ability itself, which would come with bison-related sights, a museum, an amphitheater, kid-friendly actions, tethered balloon rides and a zipper line.
“It’s being referred to as North Dakota’s Disneyland,” mentioned Montpelier Republican Rep. Craig Headland.
He and Jamestown GOP Sen. Terry Wanzek mentioned they imagine the thought pushed by their constituents is an efficient one however each described state backing for it as a longshot.
“The individuals of Jamestown are all behind it,” Headland mentioned.
The plan would rely totally on $60 million in loans from newly authorized laws aimed toward creating an in-state funding coverage for North Dakota’s voter-approved oil tax financial savings account.
The laws, signed by Republican Gov. Doug Burgum final week, would faucet 20% of future oil tax collections coming into the Legacy Fund to assist set up loans for costly infrastructure initiatives and supply capital for in-state corporations.
Burgum spokesman Mike Nowatzki mentioned the governor’s workplace has not reviewed the laws.
“The governor wouldn’t touch upon an modification to a invoice that hasn’t reached his desk,” Nowatzki mentioned.
Bismarck GOP Rep. Mike Nathe, who sponsored the bipartisan laws signed final week, mentioned the Jamestown proposal suits its intent of investing in North Dakota, which is among the least visited states.
The modification has but to be reviewed by legislative finances writers. Even when it’s accepted as an add-on to the state Commerce Division’s finances, the State Funding Board, which invests the Legacy Fund cash, would nonetheless need to approve the thought.
The mortgage additionally must be matched with $5 million from native sources. If that’s carried out, the mission would then get a $5 million no-strings-attached grant from the state’s normal fund, which largely comes from state taxes on revenue, gross sales, power, tobacco and playing.
Connie Ova, chief govt officer of the Jamestown-Stutsman Growth Corp., mentioned a research commissioned by her group discovered that just about 9 million automobiles move town yearly alongside Interstate 94, and the purpose could be to lure a few of these vacationers.
Robust not formally named, the proposed facility is known as Buffalo Metropolis Park, she mentioned, and would occupy only a fraction of the 120 acres of the state-owned land that’s at present getting used as a pasture for bison.
“We expect there’s a enormous alternative right here and the neighborhood may be very enthusiastic about it,” Ova mentioned. “It opens the door to encourage tourism in North Dakota.”