Arden Hills stadium site cleanup gets contract

  • Article by: ROCHELLE OLSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 8, 2012 - 6:41 AM

Work continues on financing plan for Vikings' top stadium choice.

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The former Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant in Arden Hills

Photo: McKenna Ewen, Star Tribune

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A St. Paul company won a $20.6 million contract to clean up the state's largest Superfund site, land in Arden Hills that also is being considered as the potential home of a proposed $1.1 billion Minnesota Vikings stadium.

The Ramsey County Board, by a 4-3 vote Tuesday, approved the contract with Carl Bolander & Sons Co. for the cleanup of 430 acres, some of which could be used for a stadium, other unspecified development and a wildlife preserve.

Even though the board approved the contract, nothing will happen unless state money comes through and the contract returns to the board for another approval. In voting against the contract, some commissioners said the proposal was premature and could bind the county to action even without state money.

Commissioner Jim McDonough voted for the contract. "This is a pretty good opportunity no matter what you think about the stadium. We could actually get site control of one of the largest sites in this county," he said, adding that the vote "continues to position us" as a home for the Vikings.

The vote was one more step toward assembling and preparing the Arden Hills site for the Vikings, but major questions remain unresolved, including how the public subsidy for the stadium would be financed. Ramsey County already submitted two financing plans to the state for up to $375 million toward the facility, but both were rejected by legislators.

County staffers are working on a new proposal and may present it this week.

Commissioners Toni Carter, Victoria Reinhardt and Janice Rettman spoke and voted against the deal for the former Twin Cities Army Ammunitions Plant.

Reinhardt called the deal "premature" and potentially one requiring the county to go ahead even without state money or a Vikings stadium. "It ultimately can -- if not legally -- ethically, bind us, and I'm not willing to do that," she said.

County Manager Julie Kleinschmidt said the package clearly states that going forward with the deal is "subject to County Board approval."

Under a previous agreement with the General Services Administration, the cost of the cleanup would be deducted from the cost of the land, set at $28.5 million. Parks Director Greg Mack said the cleanup contract becomes "the basis for our negotiations" with the federal government.

Commissioner Jan Parker asked whether the $20.6 million covered the entire cleanup. Mack said he projected an additional $2 million in costs to clean the soil to residential standards.

Commissioner Tony Bennett said he was "shocked and dismayed" by some of the questions and called a vote against the deal a signal that some commissioners are "not interested in cleaning up" this site.

Parker, McDonough, Bennett and Chairman Rafael Ortega voted yes.

Rochelle Olson • 651-925-5035 Twitter: @rochelleolson

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