The Minnesota House Capital Investment Committee has been touring Minnesota to learn about local projects and hear pitches for funding to be included in an upcoming bonding bill. The tour was in southeastern Minnesota on Nov. 9 and 10. Committee members heard pitches from local cities including Red Wing, Cannon Falls and Hastings.
The city of Red Wing brought the committee to Bay Point Park to talk about the Riverfront Project. The first phase is currently underway with the completion of the pedestrian bridge and the work on Old West Main Street. The city requested bonding funds for Phase 2, which would include realigning Levee Road, adding parking to Bay Point Park and providing more walkways.
The second phase of the project is estimated to cost $5.4 million. The city is asking for $4.1 million in state bonding.
Marshall Hallock, the city’s administrative business director said of Phase 2, “it’ll never happen if we don’t get some assistance.”
The city of Cannon Falls is asking for $469,000 in state funding to replace the retaining wall at the John Burch Park. The limestone wall was built in 1938 and is beginning to lean and erode.
The project would include constructing a new first base dugout, updating the seating area on the retaining wall and updating the safety railing and fencing in front of the seating area.
The city and nonprofit John Burch Park Supporters have committed to matching the funds requested of the state. The project is estimated to cost $938,000.
State Rep. Barb Haley was in attendance. She said of the park, “this is their living room, this is where they gather.”
The city of Hastings submitted three projects for consideration, but only one was the focus of Wednesday’s presentation: the Hastings Civic Center Arena, where the community hockey teams play.
The proposed project would replace the current freon-based refrigeration system that can no longer be produced due to federal law. The new system would be based on ammonia, which is much better for the environment than freon. The other part of the project is to replace the 23- year-old roof that covers one of the rinks.
The project is estimated to cost $2.9 million. The city is requesting $1.45 million in state bonding.
Committee members were led through a tour of the center, starting in the rink where high school boys were running a captain’s practice, through the Zamboni room and into the rink where the girls team was finishing a scrimmage before the start of the season.
During the presentation, speakers emphasized that the rinks are filled with hockey players and figure skaters from early morning until late at night every day during Minnesota’s long winter.
As if to prove their point, kids of all ages continually walked through the tour on their way to and from practice. Some of the smallest ones, barely in grade school, carried equipment bags the size of their classmates.
The House Capital Investment Committee will begin working in January to write an investment bill, which will likely include many of the projects pitched during the tour around Minnesota.