The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

May 16, 2014

Legislature OKs bonding bill; area projects funded

Mankato civic center, MSU building, RTC projects included

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Legislature voted Friday to borrow $846 million and spend $199 million in surplus money on state construction projects, including $14.5 million for the Mankato civic center expansion.

Assuming the governor signs the bill, work is expected to start on the civic center this fall, Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges said.

Locker-room renovations were slated to be the first step, though those will likely have to wait until the next hockey season ends. Major construction on the expansion isn’t expected to begin until March.

The bonding bill also includes $56.3 million for the Minnesota Security Hospital and $7.4 million for the Minnesota Sex Offender Program, both in St. Peter’s Regional Treatment Center.

DFL Reps. Clark Johnson of North Mankato and Kathy Brynaert of Mankato made funding of the security hospital and civic center projects their highest priorities of the session, and both were as pleased as they were tired after the House's 3 a.m. Friday vote.

Brynaert said that as hard as legislators worked to secure the funding, residents worked “doubly hard,” doing “everything they could conceive of” to advocate for the projects.

The bill also has $25.8 million for Minnesota State University's clinical science building, which is sited just north of the Taylor Center, along Warren Avenue.

The bill does not include $7.5 million for South Central College’s renovation and maintenance project, though it was earlier included in the House and governor’s proposed bills. The state’s internal rankings put MSU’s project at a higher priority than SCC’s.

The lack of a project at SCC was Johnson and Brynaert's only disappointment, though Brynaert said “it’ll live to come back another day.”

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

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