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The discussion began when some legislators privately asked the Lessard council to channel more funding to the metro area this year. The council’s staff asked the Metropolitan Council to bundle all 15 metro projects. The Met Council complied, but it submitted an application of 150 pages that came in late and was flawed in other ways, according to Lessard council staff. The application did not make the cut.
Lessard Council Chairman David Hartwell said council members do not have an anti-metro bias. “The projects that came in were not in my opinion well thought out or a good use of money,” he said.
At a time when the state is losing prairie to farming in the west and Mississippi River bluffs are becoming overgrown with vegetation, the discussion is about the best place to spend the money to preserve the most animal habitat, Hartwell said.
“We need to do something in every area,” Hartwell said. The question is “where is the bang for the buck?”
Three Rivers Park District associate superintendent Boe Carlson said the debate has set the stage for greater potential funding in the future. “It’s raised the awareness that we’re not traditional parks,” Carlson said. “We really are a different breed and we do provide wildlife habitat.”
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