The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 5, 2013

City council rookies start with buildings

By Dan Linehan
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — The city’s two newest city councilors will face two weighty topics during their first meeting Monday: a plan to deal with requests for city money to build a recreation center and a civic center update.

Chris Frederick and Jason Mattick’s first decision as Mankato City Council members will be whether to support more requests for state money to expand the Verizon Wireless Center. Because it’s only a work session, they won’t be asked to vote, but their opinions will still be used to guide city staff.

The request, though, is unlikely to be controversial as council members have typically had no problem asking for state money.

City Manager Pat Hentges said Gov. Mark Dayton is likely to introduce a proposal for a bill to pay for public works projects such as civic centers, though perhaps later in the session. Dayton has said civic centers are a high priority for him.

Hentges also has invited Minnesota State University officials to the meeting. The expansion would let MSU’s hockey teams use the arena more often because it would create more space for the activities displaced from the arena.

The council also will

discuss how the city ought to react to the growing number of proposals for a new recreational building, including for youth hockey.

“I just kind of want to get an understanding of what the council wants to do,” Hentges said.

The Mankato Area Hockey Association already has asked Blue Earth County and North Mankato for money to build a new ice rink, and the youth group’s plan contemplates extra spending from Mankato, too.

Hentges suggests that these groups take their case to the board of the All Seasons Arena, which is funded by five area governments: Mankato, North Mankato, Mankato Area Public Schools, Blue Earth County and Skyline.

There are questions, he said, that still need answering, including what the facility would look like and how it would be paid for and operated.

There are, in other words, requests for government spending on recreation buildings but no process for how those governments collectively consider those requests.

The meeting starts at 6 p.m. in the Intergovernmental Center.