Several west metro cities are at the Minnesota State Capitol this year asking for state aid for several projects — everything from a Lake Minnetonka pier to ice arena renovations in Plymouth.
While legislators are only required to pass a bonding bill in even numbered years, a bonding bill is expected to be presented by Gov. Mark Dayton on April 6.
Turn to page AA6 for a roundup of the west metro cities and their requests to be in this year’s state bonding bill.
The city is looking for a $15 million bond issue to expand and improve the light-rail station at the Mall of America. City leaders have said the station is critical to serving the growing number of hotels in the area, especially with Minneapolis set to host the 2018 Super Bowl. The city’s delegation is also seeking $20 million in highway bonding money to build a new interchange at Interstate 494 and East Bush Lake Road.
In Carver County, a bill that would appropriate $8 million for an interchange at Hwy. 212 and County Road 140 in Chaska is being closely watched by officials in that city. Chaska officials consider the intersection a key ingredient in plans for future economic growth.
The provision for the interchange is part of a larger bill seeking $28 million in improvements for Hwy. 212.
The city is hoping to get the Department of Transportation to construct a new noise barrier on the west side of Hwy. 100 between Minnehaha Creek and Vernon Avenue. A bill introduced by Sen. Melisa Franzen, DFL-Edina, has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. The bill does not specify the cost of the project.
On Lake Minnetonka, the small town of Excelsior is trying to rehab its lakefront park, the Commons, arguing that thousands of Twin Cities visitors use it for free each year so it should be supported regionally, not by the town of 2,100.
City leaders are back at the Capitol after its first state bonding bill request last year didn’t make the cut, asking again for $5 million for improvements to its lakeside 13-acre park and adjoining historic port. The city wants to replace a vintage band shell and bathhouse that date to the 1950s and 1960s with a new band shell, bathrooms, lake walk, concessions stands like the Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, and other improvements.
It’s not the first funding option the city has explored. Last November, voters narrowly supported an up to 1 percent increase in sales taxes; the city needed the community’s support before going to legislators to ask for special sales tax approval. City Manager Kristi Luger said that, if the bonding bill request isn’t included this year, the city could ask legislators to ask for approval for a sales tax in the next session.
Along with Crystal and New Hope, the city is seeking $5 million in bond money to replace the Joint Water Commission main supply line to the Crystal reservoir. The city is also seeking a $38 million grant from the Department of Employment and Economic Development to demolish and replace Brookview Community Center.
Plymouth city leaders are back at the Capitol after its first — and unsuccessful — bonding request last year. And this time, the city has two requests.
The city is asking for $2.1 million for its ice center — the second-busiest arena in the state, the city says. The money would cover $1.3 million in a new roof and parking lot and $812,500 to convert an Olympic-sized rink into a smaller professional-sized rink — which is more in demand.
The city would match it with $2.1 million, covering costs for the parking lot, roof, dehumidification system, dasher boards, scoreboards, an electric Zamboni and $1 million to convert refrigerant to meet federally mandated standards. By 2020, Freon, also known as refrigerant R-22, can’t be produced or imported, so rinks have to be retrofitted with ammonia systems.
Plus, after nearly 20 years, the city says the facility is due for upgrades. The three sheets of ice host more than 500,000 visitors a year and houses the Wayzata High School boys and girls hockey team, Providence Academy, Armstrong/Cooper Youth Hockey and Wayzata Youth Hockey Association.
The city is also asking for $4.7 million to build a bridge over the Canadian Pacific Railroad tracks on Vicksburg Lane. The railroad recently raised the tracks, creating a jump on Vicksburg Lane, which has caused some car crashes.
“I don’t think we can wait another year,” City Manager Dave Callister said about a solution.
Robbinsdale city leaders are asking for $2 million to replace sewer and water supply lines.
It’s part of a bonding bill request from the Joint Water Commission, which includes leaders from Crystal, New Hope and Golden Valley, asking for $5 million to replace and repair a 2-mile water line that goes to the three northwest metro cities; the water line has burst twice in Robbinsdale, where it goes through, in less than a year’s time.
As Wayzata looks to spruce up its lakefront on Lake Minnetonka and make it more accessible and safer for visitors, city leaders are asking for $5.2 million for safer railroad crossings, a Lake Minnetonka pier and lake walk. It comes after a failed request last year.
The small city, on the far northeastern side of the massive lake, is cut off from its lakefront by BNSF Railway tracks. That’s why the city wants to spend $550,000 on safer crossings to the lake, add a $3.7 million lake walk between its historic train depot and Broadway Avenue and a $1 million pier at Broadway Avenue.
The ideas are all part of a 10-year lakefront improvement concept plan, the Lake Effect, approved last year.
Staff writer Patrick Condon contributed to this report.