Metro mayors applaud projects, but GOP likely to balk at bonding billby Dan Olson, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Some Twin Cities mayors are pleased with Gov. Mark Dayton's proposed bonding bill.
It recommends borrowing state money for repair to Target Center in Minneapolis and roadway improvements next to the Mall of America in Bloomington, among other projects.
But getting those metro projects through the GOP-controlled Legislature will be a tough sell.
One of the larger projects in Dayton's bonding bill is $20 million for a new municipal stadium in downtown St. Paul.
It would be the new home of the St. Paul Saints baseball team.
St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman said the ballpark belongs in a bonding bill, because it would serve the state and not just the St. Paul Saints.
"If you look at the folks that would come down to use a regional ball park in the city of St. Paul, it is folks from around the state, (American) Legion ball, and high school teams," Coleman said. "So there's clearly a lot of use for this facility beyond the immediate area."
Another entertainment venue, Target Center in downtown Minneapolis, needs repair. Dayton wants the state to borrow $8 million for the facility.
Another big ticket item for Minneapolis in Dayton's proposal is $7 million to help repair the Plymouth Avenue bridge, an otherwise heavily traveled city-owned span over the Mississippi closed to vehicle traffic because of rusting supports.
And then there's the proposed Granary Road next to the University of Minnesota's East Bank campus and the new TCF Bank Stadium.
Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak said the city's $5 million request to help build Granary Road fits with the Central Corridor light rail project that will link the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul.
"Granary Road is really the road that will allow traffic to go around the University instead of through it when the light rail comes through, but it will also encourage more development along the area where research is being developed at the University," Rybak said.
The bonding request from Bloomington also includes a road improvement project.
Bloomington Development Director Larry Lee said the city wants to extend and improve Lindau Lane on the north side of the Mall of America shopping center.
Improving Lindau Lane will spur expansion of retail, office and residential development, he said.
"Part of the city's plan for the south loop district is to connect together two significant developments we have in the area," Lee said. "One is the Mall of America, the other one is Bloomington Central Station that's being developed by McGough Development."
Another Twin Cities line item in Dayton's bonding bill would benefit the Minnesota Zoo in the southern suburb of Apple Valley.
Zoo Director Lee Ehmke said the state-owned and operated facility would get $5 million in bonding money to cover what he calls asset preservation, or nuts and bolts improvements.
"Roof repair, and clerestory window replacement, energy conservation measures and HVAC upgrades," Ehmke said. "So really looking at public safety and energy efficiency as the primary criteria for the requests."
But while these metro projects are included in the DFL governor's proposal, they face an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled House and Senate.
GOP leaders say they're skeptical about using the state's credit card during tough economic times, and they might not support a bonding bill at all unless there's an emergency such as flooding.
And projects in Minneapolis and St. Paul could be the toughest sell, with no Republican lawmakers representing either of the state's two largest cities.
- Morning Edition, 02/01/2011, 7:25 a.m.