The Free Press, Mankato, MN


May 19, 2014

Our View: Greater Mankato finally gets its due

Why it matters Persistence and dedication of community leaders pays off in capital projects.

Well, you can say this about greater Mankatoans — we are a persistent lot.

After seven tries, thousands of man hours in work and testimony, suffering years of being snubbed by the Legislature and a governor, the Mankato civic center finally has its state money to expand.

The request was couched in pleas for fairness because the center is the only one in the state that didn't receive previous state help.

Both chambers last week passed two capital investment bills — one had $846 million in bonding and another $200 million in cash from the surplus.

The Greater Mankato area came out pretty well in this session. The bonding bill included:

■ $25.8 million for Minnesota State University’s new Clinical Sciences facility that will consolidate many of the departments of Allied Health and Nursing into one and include a public dental clinic and speech and rehabilitation clinic, as well as training classrooms.

■ $63.7 million for the Minnesota Security Hospital and Sex Offender program in St. Peter for facility improvements for the safety of patients and staff providing for more space and preventing the mixing of patients.

■ $346,400 for the Minnesota River Trail between Mankato and St. Peter, and connections to the Sakatah Trail and the Red Jacket Trail.

■ The Rapidan Dam also will get $2.4 million to replace a retaining wall, replace its timber gates with steel versions and replace the windows in an old power house.

The $14.5 million needed for the civic center expansion was in the cash bill that House bonding chair Alice Hausman said was a better situation because it allows cities to spend with more flexibility than borrowed money.

The vote required bipartisan support and the area delivered with help from Sens. Kathy Sheran and Julie Rosen and Reps. Kathy Brynaert, Clark Johnson, Tony Cornish and Bob Gunther.

Sheran noted Friday that at last the members of the Senate will not have to hear her argue for Mankato civic center funding anymore and she was glad for that.

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