Williston to open $76M rec center to draw families

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 28, 2014 at 4:39 pm •  Published: March 28, 2014

The oil industry reshaped Williston and other oil patch communities by bringing in tens of thousands of workers to town lured by an almost nonexistent unemployment rate and high-paying jobs. But as the population has boomed, so did Williston's reputation as a temporary home.

At times, the boom outpaced the city's infrastructure, leading to housing shortages and skyrocketing rent prices. So, many workers live in what are called man camps, rows of prefabricated buildings outside of town where mud scrapers for boots line stairs to entrances.

"When you have all these man camps, they're kind of a necessary evil, but you can't build a town on a man camp," Williston mayor Ward Koeser said. "If you just build a town on a man camp, you don't have any teenagers to work at McDonalds, you don't have a spouse who might be a nurse at the hospital."

"They might come here to find a job, but if you want them to bring their family here and stay here, you need to have quality of life," he added.

Krueger said 700 people attended the soft opening for the recreation center — which he calls "a game-changer" — earlier this week, and smiles abounded.

"You know, I haven't seen that many people in one area in Williston happy in a long time, we've had a tough road here, when the boom hit, it was tough," he said.