Bonding bill includes NorShor, NERC money: Dayton’s plan includes funding for Hibbing airport, Giants RidgeGov. Mark Dayton on Monday announced his plan for state-funded construction projects across Minnesota, including $4.95 million for renovations to downtown Duluth’s NorShor Theatre and $2 million to refurbish the Northeast Regional Corrections Center.
By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday announced his plan for state-funded construction projects across Minnesota, including $4.95 million for renovations to downtown Duluth’s NorShor Theatre and $2 million to refurbish the Northeast Regional Corrections Center.
The proposal also calls for $200,000 for the city of Duluth to draw up plans and engineering to fix the crumbling, 72-year-old Wade Stadium. Additional state money to actually make the repairs — the city had requested $5.7 million — probably would have to wait until 2014 under Dayton’s plan.
The governor’s $775 million proposal, which now will be vetted by the House and Senate before a compromise package is finalized in May, also includes $5 million for improvements and expansion at Range Regional Airport in Hibbing and $4.5 million for a new events center at Giants Ridge Ski Area in Biwabik.
The plan also includes $8.4 million for construction of the Rainy Lake and Crane Lake sewer projects near Voyageurs National Park in Koochiching and northern St. Louis counties, a proposal to build community sewer collection and treatment systems where individual septic systems have proved difficult.
The Dayton plan also has $1.5 million for the city of Virginia to extend a sewer pipe to an industrial park.
In a statement made as the bonding proposal was released, Dayton said the projects would create 21,000 construction jobs. He said the list was pared down from more than $2 billion in requests.
“My proposals will put thousands of Minnesotans back to work throughout our state,” Dayton said. “It gives priority to projects that are ready to go. Many of them have been delayed for years and are needed to revitalize downtown business centers, modernize college classrooms and laboratories and improve infrastructure throughout our state.”
Duluth Mayor Don Ness praised the governor’s proposal as well-balanced across the state and good for Duluth — especially for the proposed $19 million reconstruction of downtown Duluth’s last remaining historic movie theater.
“I appreciate the governor’s support of the NorShor. I know they were impressed with the public-private partnership and the fact that there would be close to 3-to-1 leverage of local-to-state funding,” Ness told the News Tribune. “This project could get underway this fall and put a lot of Duluthians to work.”
Developer George Sherman and his company, Sherman Associates, plans to begin a $19 million renovation in August of the 1910s-era NorShor Theatre that is expected to take about 14 months. Sherman said he plans to bring back the theater’s 64-foot-tall art deco tower.
Ness said that getting money for planning but not construction at Wade Stadium is not a problem, saying there’s no way construction could begin this year, anyway.
“Given that we cannot start major construction until Aug. 25, 2014, anyway, it makes the most sense to seek construction dollars next session, which is the traditional bonding year,” Ness said.
Projects not included in the governor’s plan but that still could be resurrected in a final bonding bill next year include Sprit Mountain’s $3.4 million request for a new water system for snowmaking.
The governor’s plan includes $4 million for state parks and trails and $3 million for state forest reforestation efforts, a provision sought by Minnesota’s timber industry.
There’s also $8 million for an ongoing program for municipal drinking water system upgrades and $20 million for sewage systems. The Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, for example, has applied for state funding to help cover the cost of $15.6 million in improvements to main sewer-line interceptors and the treatment plant itself. The state could pay for up to 35 percent of those local projects.
DFLers in the House said they will release their preferred construction projects today.
The state pays for big public construction budgets by issuing bonds paid back over time.
The Dayton plan also includes: