MANKATO — As the prospects for a bonding bill this year dimmed, Mankato City Manager Pat Hentges is all but resigned to waiting another year and making a seventh try for state money to expand the Verizon Wireless Center.
"I'm not optimistic that there will be time and enough will to move forward," he said. "I'm not entirely surprised. Are we disappointed? Yes. Each year puts us further back in the path in terms of the marketability of our center and the urgency of the critical needs to fully maximize the center's value as it relates to attracting conventions and keeping a quality hockey program."None of the three Republicans who voted for the bonding bill is from the Mankato area.
Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, has long supported the civic center request and said Thursday he was considering voting for the bill. But he was concerned about its size.
Likewise, Rep. Bob Gunther, R-Fairmont, said earlier this week that he's not a fan of big off-year bonding bills.
The bonding bill included about $65 million for Mankato-area bonding projects. That includes $36.3 million for the Security Hospital in St. Peter, where the mentally ill and dangerous are committed. The renovations would have made the facility a safer place for state employees and the residents.Truman will also have to wait for $1.35 million to upgrade pipes that handle rain water and prevent flooding.
"Every time it gets to a half inch or three-quarters of an inch, our street floods completely," Truman resident Bill Zehnder said.
Eventually, the rain seeps into his basement. It's flooded maybe five or six times in the 30 years he's lived there. Sometimes, the sanitary sewer backs up and sewage pours inside.
Without the state money, the city just can't afford to pay for the $2.7 million effort to widen its pipes, Truman Clerk-Treasurer Monte Rohman said.Another smaller project that may have to wait is $2.4 million in upgrades to the Rapidan Dam. The money would replace the dam's remaining timber "gates" — structures that open and close to let water through — with steel versions.