February 13, 2013

Wolf Run ready for the next step

By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer

Affordable daycare and housing have been identified as Watford City’s most critical needs through a needs assessment survey taken almost two years ago. Since that time, area leaders have been working with developers and area businessmen to try and meet those needs. As part of this process, a group of local city, county and school officials came together to form a non-profit organization and created the concept for Wolf Run Village.
The idea for Wolf Run Village started in the summer of 2012, but in order to make it a reality, money needed to be raised first.
“The goal of Wolf Run was to create affordable housing for public service employees and affordable daycare for area residents,” states Watford City Mayor Brent Sanford. “In order to keep the rates for both the daycare and the housing affordable, we needed to raise $3 million of the $8 million project costs.”
Sanford states that raising $3 million and only having to borrow $5 million would allow Wolf Run Village to keep its daycare rates in the $4 an hour range and apartment rental rates in the $800 to $900 range.
The process of raising funds was started by two grants the city of Watford City received that same summer. On July 26, the North Dakota State Land Board granted $125,000 toward helping the city establish a new child care facility, and on Aug. 8, the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency gave $514,056 for law enforcement personnel housing. The concept behind Wolf Run met the criteria for both grants, and with a $1 million grant from the Roughrider Fund, fundraising for Wolf Run Village was half over before it even started.
From then until now, Wolf Run Village has received contributions from McKenzie County and McKenzie County Public School District No. 1, as well as a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $320,000. And last Wednesday, the daycare portion of the project received a huge financial boost when four oil companies donated $300,000 toward the Wolf Run daycare project. Power Fuels and Whiting Oil each donated $100,000 to the project, while MBI and QEP each contributed $50,000. All these donations have helped bring Wolf Run’s goal of raising $3 million down to just over $50,000.
“We are so thankful to the local city, county, school and Roughrider boards for their vision and financial support for this project. We also thank the state leadership for the law enforcement housing grant and the childcare facility grant, as well as the four local oil companies who saw the need and donated to the project,” states Sanford. “Wolf Run Village is a good project that will help solve the area’s daycare and essential public personnel housing needs.”
Wolf Run Village will contain 44 housing units that Sanford hopes will be up and running by the first part of the summer.
“There are so many public service entities that have contacted us about reserving housing for public service employees,” states Sanford. “We will likely be full before we even open.”
Of the 44 units, eight are reserved for teachers employed by the McKenzie County Public School District No. 1. Eight are reserved for Watford City law enforcement officers and 10 are reserved for employees of McKenzie County. The remaining units can only be rented to area public service employees, in order to meet the criteria of the grants that have been applied to the project.
Wolf Run Village’s appeal extends beyond housing, however, because it also offers affordable daycare. And, unlike the housing units, Wolf Run’s daycare facility will be available to everyone, with a capacity to care for 150 to 200 children.
“We are trying for 200, but we’re not sure if we can due to funding and space constraints,” states Sanford.
Sanford states that because they are just over $50,000 shy of meeting their $3 million fundraising goal, the village is in the process of finalizing its construction loans and will break ground this spring as weather permits.
“Once the foundation is laid, the process will move quickly as the housing units are being constructed off-site,” states Sanford.
However, though housing could be available by early summer, Sanford states the daycare facility will be constructed from the ground up over the next year.