The polar bear brothers will most likely have a new home at the Como Zoo as scheduled. The gorillas, on the other hand, will have to wait.
The future is grim for the Asian Pacific Cultural Center at the Hamm's Brewery. Adding land to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary isn't likely this year.
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's vetoes from the bonding bill hit St. Paul hard: More than $100 million worth of projects affecting the city were stripped from the bill, including $70 million for the Central Corridor light-rail line. All of the city's requests were axed, as well as several other east metro projects.
"There's simply no clear explanation for this," said state Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul. She said the projects have little chance of being revived.
"In looking at what he's [Pawlenty] done, the rhyme or reason isn't apparent to me," said City Council President Kathy Lantry.
As program supporters assessed their next steps, DFLers claimed politics played a role in the cuts. But Pawlenty has said he didn't make cuts for political or personal reasons, and Republicans said the cuts hit DFL districts hard for one simple reason: They had more bonding requests.
More than $200 million statewide was cut from DFL districts and, of the 50 bonding projects vetoed that were for specific districts, 49 were in DFL districts and one was in a GOP district, according to Senate majority research staff.
House Majority Leader Tony Sertich, DFL-Chisholm, said that the MnSCU projects that Pawlenty vetoed were in Duluth, the Iron Range and St. Paul -- all DFL strongholds -- and even the suburban Hennepin County district of DFL Rep. Lyndon Carlson.
House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, R-Marshall, said the vast majority of vetoed projects were in DFL districts because most projects in the bill were sponsored by DFL legislators. Seifert and Republican Senate Minority Leader David Senjem also had projects cut in their districts, he said.
'They had a lot at play'
"I don't think this is an anti-St. Paul message, and I don't think this is an anti-St. Paul governor," said Assistant Senate Minority Leader Geoff Michel, R-Edina. "The fact is that St. Paul and the east metro had more bonding proposals this year, so they had a lot at play."
Reactions were mixed from supporters of these east-metro projects that were cut:
• $24 million for a new Bell Museum of Natural History on the St. Paul campus of the University of Minnesota. U spokesman Daniel Wolter said getting money for a biomedical research facility was a fair trade-off. He said private fundraising is underway.
• $2 million for a Great River National Park request to be used to buy about 4 acres of land to add to the Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary on the edge of downtown. "We're going to pursue opportunities to find land acquisition money," said Dan McGuiness, board member for the Lower Phalen Creek Project.
• $11 million for the Como Zoo. Part of that amount, $800,000 would have gone toward the completion of the polar bear habitat expansion. Neil and Buzz, the bear brothers, are in Detroit in the meantime. Mike Hahm, director of Como Zoo and Conservatory, said he's confident the gap will be closed. The gorilla habitat expansion is now on hold. Hahm said disappointment is tempered with past widespread support.
'We had no inkling'
• $3.8 million for shoreline repair from the Upper Landing housing development to the High Bridge near downtown. It's likely to lose federal money without the state contribution. "We had no inkling there'd be any reason it wouldn't be supported by the governor," said Patrick Seeb, CEO of the St. Paul Riverfront Corporation. Shoreline repair isn't sexy, it's public infrastructure, and that means fundraising isn't a likely option he said.
• $5 million for the proposed Asian Pacific Cultural Center.
Money was "absolutely needed this year," said Naomi Chu, executive director of the center, which has been in the works in some form for a decade. She said approval of state money was needed to get millions from corporations and foundations. The $18 million center would have been a long-term economic benefit to the state and helped revitalize the East Side neighborhood around the old brewery, Chu said.
• $2 million sought by Ramsey County would have gone toward federal matching money for the purchase of the Union Depot's rear concourse and adjacent land. The county envisions the historic depot as a regional transit hub for trains, buses and taxis. Not getting that money this year won't slow the project because there have been funds already put toward it, Commissioner Rafael Ortega said.
LIGHT RAIL STOPPED IN ITS TRACKS?
• Gov. Tim Pawlenty got an earful from DFL lawmakers who say the Central Corridor light-rail line is dead unless he revives funding for the project. B8