West St. Paul and the National Guard have teamed up to request state money for a shared building that would replace the Guard’s dated armory on Robert Street.
If approved by the Legislature, the $4.5 million included in Gov. Mark Dayton’s bonding recommendation could go toward a National Guard Readiness Center that would also house West St. Paul’s new City Hall.
The new center would include classrooms, showers, bathrooms, locker rooms, administrative space and storage. The 57-year-old armory lacks parking and expansion capability, and does not meet security requirements, said Don Kerr, executive director at the Minnesota Department of Military Affairs.
“We are very enthusiastic to be working with the city, and we hope the Legislature supports it,” Kerr said.
To build the new facility, Kerr said, the department is seeking about $10 million in federal money and other funding sources in addition to the governor’s recommendation.
West St. Paul City Hall and the city Police Department are currently in a joint building on Humboldt Avenue. The aging building needs a new ventilation system and more police locker room space.
Major fixes have been on hold because of financial pressure from the city’s Robert Street reconstruction project, said Matt Fulton, city manager.
The site for the proposed building could be the city’s municipal golf course, which is expected to close in 2017, Fulton said. The Thompson Oaks Golf Course is next to the Robert Street YMCA, which also plans to collaborate on the project.
Fulton said citizens rarely stop into City Hall. Combining City Hall with the National Guard and the YMCA, would create a more usable community space, he said.
“The National Guard could bring in some sizable resources to pay for that area,” Fulton said.
Joint municipal and military facilities are not a new concept. Inver Grove Heights has a community center attached to a National Guard training facility.
Often, Kerr said, the department asks for federal money and the city pairs up with them, but in this case West St. Paul moved forward first and asked the department to partner with them. Kerr said partnering with cities benefits both. The National Guard typically does training on weekends, leaving space available during the week for the community to use.
“We think it’s a great opportunity to partner with the communities and add value to those communities,” Kerr said.
The YMCA will discuss a conceptual plan with the City Council on Feb. 22.
“The YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities and the City of West St. Paul continue to discuss how they might collaborate to better serve the West St. Paul community more effectively,” Glen Gunderson, president and CEO of YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, said in a statement.