The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is asking the Legislature to fund a two-year grant program that would help communities plan for extreme weather events.
Laura Bishop, who heads the state agency, said some of Minnesota's oldest cities have stormwater and wastewater systems dating to the 1880s.
"Add weather that's wet like today — and more frequent and extreme rainfalls — and you have an even bigger problem," she said at a virtual news conference Wednesday.
Bishop pointed to Duluth, which Mayor Emily Larson said has seen "five incredibly catastrophic storms in the last 10 years" that have caused millions of dollars in damage.
"We can't control climate, and we can't control weather," Larson said. "But we can control our reaction to it."
If approved, the proposed $2.9 million program could assist up to 15 communities each in 2022 and 2023. The grants would help pay for climate risk assessment, planning or pre-design work "that's needed to secure additional future funding" from the state or federal government, Bishop said.
Bids approved for City Hall move
The City Council unanimously approved bids this week to spend $10.37 million to renovate the historic former Technical High School into a new St. Cloud City Hall.
The project will move city offices to the historic 1917 and 1938 sections of the school, which the St. Cloud school district vacated in 2019 after it built a new high school.
St. Cloud Mayor Dave Kleis said the demolition, abatement and remodeling are slated to start in April.
Tech's western building — three stories of classrooms built in the 1960s — will be razed to make way for parking.
Historic sections on the southernmost part of the site will be remodeled for city offices. The former library will become City Council chambers. "If all goes well, we'll be in by the end of the year," Kleis said.
The city also asked developers this year to submit plans to redevelop the existing City Hall. Kleis said three developers have submitted proposals.
Matt Glaesman, community development director, said the new site will have more square footage, more parking and more large spaces the city can use for training and meetings.
The city was set to bid the Tech renovation project last spring, but the pandemic and its subsequent poor municipal bond market delayed plans.
"If not for COVID, we would have probably not only bid the project, we'd probably be all moved in there," Kleis said.