With the renovation of Bloomington’s Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area nearly complete, the Three Rivers Park District recently tweaked the financing package for the $14 million project.
The price tag hasn’t changed since Three Rivers’ board approved the makeover more than a year ago. Changes in funding sources — approved by the board in late March — were needed because the park district received less money than it expected through last year’s state bonding bill.
It’s the last hurdle for a project that was long in the making, according to Boe Carlson, Three Rivers superintendent. “We have been struggling to manage this project since the early 2000s,” he said.
Carlson said part of the challenge is that Hyland has its own operating budget, separate from the rest of Three Rivers’ facilities, and it is expected to generate a profit. “We’re very cautious about what the investment is in it,” he said.
The centerpiece of the Hyland makeover is a new chalet. “The building that was there was about 40 years old and had really outlived its serviceable life,” Carlson said.
The new chalet, which should be completed next month, will be about 35,000 square feet, about twice the size of the old building that was torn down last year. It will have more seating, an expanded rental area, and larger bathrooms and changing areas. Other improvements include a new pickup and drop-off area, additional parking and the creation of a ring road for buses.
Carlson said the redevelopment lets Hyland better serve the 160,000 to 170,000 visitors it gets during its season, which typically runs from Thanksgiving until March.
In late March, the Three Rivers board approved issuing $6.39 million in revenue bonds to help pay for the project, $136,000 more than expected. Carlson said he expects the bonds to be sold in the next month.
Three Rivers also will use about $2.93 million from its own pool of unallocated bond proceeds, about twice as much as originally planned. That pool of funds is larger than expected because some other park district projects were completed below budget.
Together, the two changes will cover a $1.56 million reduction in a development grant for Hyland from the Metropolitan Council that would have come from the bonding bill.
Carlson said Three Rivers hopes it could get some of that money back if a bonding bill in this year’s legislative session reinstates the reductions made last year.