90 projects submitted for special $47.5 million bonding fund

St. Paul has the biggest request: $27 million for a Saints minor league baseball park.

Mark Phillips, the commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development, doesn’t sound too excited about having to decide which projects get funded from the Legislature’s special bonding pot of money.

The fund — $47.5 million to be doled out to projects that didn’t get funded in the regular bonding bill — has attracted a boatload of attention from cities and counties around the state, with 90 projects having a total of price tag of $288 million vying for a shot.

“Neither the governor nor I were too keen on this, but given the assignment, we’ll do the best we can,” Phillips said Tuesday in a call with reporters.

He’s referring to the Legislature passing the buck to the department, instead of making the final decisions, on funding the projects that might have qualified for the final bonding dollars.

The Legislature did pass a $500 million bonding bill during the session, but rather than making a final call on some of the projects, it created this extra pot of $47.5 million for DEED to hand out.

“This has been legislators’ role [selecting bonding projects] since 1858, so it seems odd all of a sudden to give a relatively small amount to DEED and have us decide,” Phillips said.

He said the decision-making process “has the potential to be frustrating.”

The projects, running alphabetically from Albany’s $740,000 8th Street project to Woodbury’s $.1.5 million sports center expansion.

St. Paul has the biggest request: $27 million for a Saints minor league baseball park. Minneapolis wants $25 million for a Nicollet Mall redesign.

Other big proposals: Mankato, $14.5 million for civic center expansion; Metropolitan Council, $14 million for the SouthWest light rail line; Duluth, $10 million for a parking ramp; St. Cloud, $9.6 million for convention center expansion.

Phillips said that the 90 projects will be scored according to about 10 criteria, including economic development benefits, leverage of funding, regional impact and job creation.

He said he’d also like to see some geographic balance around the state.

Phillips said his staff will review and score the projects, but that the ultimate decision on who gets what will be his.

At least, after he runs it by the governor.

Mark Phillips
positivelyminnesota.comMark Phillips

“This being so notorious, I’m sure we’ll run it by the governor and then come up with the recommendation,” Phillips said.

The goal is to announce the decisions before the end of August, or earlier if they can get it done, he said.

While Phillips said he hadn’t read any of the proposals yet, he did reference the St. Paul Saints project several times, citing it as the type of project that would have wide regional appeal and attract further development.

“I assume the Saints ballpark will score high, but I haven’t seen the comparison against other projects,” he said.

And he noted that the Wild arena on the other side of downtown St. Paul led to much development along West 7th Street, and that the Saints ballpark likely would have a similar effect on its side of town, near the Farmers’ Market.

Phillips said he’s gotten many letters and calls of support for individual projects, and that a hockey rink in North Minneapolis has, so far, gotten more letters than anything else.

“But I don’t think that will have an influence on the decision,” he said.

Even with so many projects vying for the limited amount of funding, Phillips said he doesn’t plan to dole out partial funding.

“If we reduce any awards, it would be in consultation with applicants. We will not arbitrarily drop awards if they score high,” he said.

The full list of proposals:

Albany, City of8th Street Corridor $740,500.00
Babbitt, City ofInfrastructure Replacement & Street Reconstruction$882,000.00
Becker, County ofSolid Waste Facility & Recycling Program$1,153,025.00
Beltrami, County ofGeriatric Nursing Facility for Veterans$500,000.00
Big Lake, City ofIndustrial Park Infrastructure$5,350,000.00
Biwabik, City ofRedevelopment & Parking$700,000.00
Bloomington, City ofBloomington Central Station Public Improvements$1,350,000.00
Braham, City ofSewer & Water Infrastructure$221,000.00
Brooten, City ofIndustrial Park Infrastructure$780,500.00
Canby, City ofSoil Correction, Utility and Street Improvements $585,000.00
Carver County CDAInfrastructure for Apartments in Waconia$2,000,000.00
Carver County CDAInfrastructure for Housing in the City of Carver$1,302,837.00
Chatfield, City ofRedevelop School & Auditorium into Performance/Exhibit Space$7,096,000.00
Chisholm, City ofInfrastructure for Housing & Industrial Park$1,300,000.00
Chisholm-Hibbing Airport AuthorityTerminal Enhancement$2,500,000.00
Clara City, City ofExpand Industrial Park$774,574.00
Corcoran, City ofConstruct a new Public Works Facility$750,000.00
Corcoran, City ofWater Tower Construction$1,100,000.00
Cosmos, City ofReplacement of Public Library & City Facilities$600,000.00
Cottonwood, City ofFire Hall/Ambulance Garage$600,000.00
Dakota, County ofTrails & Visitor Centers$3,000,000.00
Deer River, City ofWastewater Treatment Pond$731,000.00
Detroit Lakes, City ofRenovation of Pavilion & Construction of a Trail$1,625,000.00
Duluth, City ofPublic Parking Ramp $10,000,000.00
Duluth, City ofWade Stadium Repair and Upgrades$5,800,000.00
East Grand Forks, City ofWastewater Treatment Improvements$4,500,000.00
Edina, City ofEdina Promenade Greenway Expansion$1,500,000.00
Fosston, City ofSecond Street South Improvements$400,000.00
Hampton, City ofDowntown Improvement $450,000.00
Hector, City ofWastewater System Improvements$1,250,000.00
Hibbing, City ofCurling Club Upgrades $1,190,000.00
Hoyt Lakes, City ofRenovate Police, Fire, & Ambulance Services Building$750,000.00
Hutchinson, City ofSmall Business Incubator$850,000.00
Iron Range ResourcesGiants Ridge Events Center$4,995,000.00
Isle, City ofMalone Island Bridge & Sewer Replacement$500,000.00
Kasson, City ofIncubator Building/Industrial Park$2,370,500.00
Kasson, City ofWastewater Treatment Improvements$1,100,000.00
Koochiching, County ofSanitary Sewer Collection System along Rainy Lake$7,500,000.00
Lake City, City ofExpand Public Library$650,000.00
La Prairie, City ofExtending Municipal Infrastructure along La Prairie Ave.$1,500,000.00
Litchfield, City ofWastewater Infrastructure Improvements$2,550,000.00
Lonsdale, City ofStreet & Utilities Improvements for New Business Park$2,121,800.00
Mankato, City ofRenovate & Expand Mankato Civic Center$14,500,000.00
Maple Grove, City ofRebuild Law Enforcement Training Facility $473,387.50
Maple Plain, City ofStreets, Sewer & Water Line Improvements$930,500.00
Maplewood, City ofEast Metro Public Safety Training Center$1,280,000.00
Marshall, City ofPublic Safety Training Center Expansion$2,500,000.00
Marshall, City ofRegional Amateur Sports Center$4,000,000.00
Maynard, City ofPublic Infrastructure$535,635.00
Metropolitan CouncilSouthwest Light Rail Transit Line$14,000,000.00
Minneapolis, City ofRedesign Nicollet Mall$25,000,000.00
Minneapolis Park & Rec. BoardMinneapolis Sculpture Garden$750,000.00
Minneapolis Special School District No. 1 Update Athletic Facilities$2,783,250.00
Moorhead, City ofNew 115kV Electric Transmission Line$1,800,000.00
Moose Lake, City ofRedevelop Riverside Center$435,000.00
Morton, City ofGneiss River Valley Development Project$2,496,000.00
Mountain Iron, City ofInfrastructure along proposed County Highway$300,000.00
Mountain Lake, City ofInfrastructure Improvements$4,127,364.00
Oak Park Heights, City ofSTH 36 & Osgood Ave. – Redevelopment Area$1,425,000.00
Osseo, City ofConstruct Police Building$750,000.00
Park Rapids, City ofDrinking Water Improvements$1,284,500.00
Pelican Rapids, City ofWastewater Treatment Facility Improvements$3,190,000.00
Perham, City ofCommunity Center Improvements$630,960.00
Pine Technical CollegeBusiness Incubator Construction$300,000.00
Prior Lake, City ofWelcome Avenue Industrial Park Improvements$1,080,500.00
Ramsey, County ofTwin Cities Army Ammunition Plant Site Acquisition & Remediation$5,900,000.00
Red Wing, City ofLevee Road Area and Riverfront Improvements$1,583,400.00
Red Wing, City ofTB Sheldon Theater Renovations$685,500.00
Red Wing, City ofDesign & Construct West Fire Station Training Facility$2,621,500.00
Redwood/Renville Regional Solid Waste BdMaterial Recovery Facility$2,256,050.00
Rice, County ofRoad Reconstruction for Industrial Park Expansion$452,500.00
Rochester, City ofMayo Civic Center – Convention Center Addition $25,000,000.00
Rushford-Peterson SchoolsNew Grade School$7,500,000.00
Sartell, City ofConstruct Public Safety Facility$3,361,849.00
Sartell, City ofStreet Improvements $2,200,000.00
Sibley Renville Fiber Joint Powers BoardFiber Optics Installation$5,071,998.00
Silver Bay, City ofWatermain Improvements$851,403.50
St. Cloud, City ofRiver’s Edge Convention Center Expansion$9,600,000.00
St. Paul, City ofSaint Paul Regional Ballpark $27,000,000.00
Stewartville, City ofFire Hall Renovation$550,000.00
Thief River Falls, City ofGreenwood Street Underpass & Construction$1,213,794.00
Three Rivers Park DistrictCross-Country Trail Improvements in Bloomington$3,658,228.00
Todd, County ofSenior Citizens Healthy Living Center in Long Prairie$500,000.00
Tower, City ofImprovements for Mixed-Use Development$1,000,000.00
Truman, City ofFlood Mitigation-Storm Sewer Improvement$1,357,500.00
Virginia, City ofInfrastructure Development for Industrial Park$1,500,000.00
Wadena, City ofPublic Health & Wellness Facility$4,625,000.00
West Saint Paul, City ofSports Dome Construction$3,450,000.00
Winona, City ofStreet Improvements $4,729,500.00
WoodburyExpand Sports Center$1,500,000.00

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Nick Magrino on 07/11/2012 - 08:09 am.


    This is stressful. The Southwest Corridor is obviously the most important project on the list, but the Lowertown Ballpark seems like kind of a given from the Vikings stadium negotiations. What are the odds the metro area will get $41 million of $47 million of any statewide funding source??

  2. Submitted by Bill Coleman on 07/11/2012 - 10:31 am.

    What a waste

    Because the legislature could not do its job, it sticks DEED with this miserable task of selecting projects based on some scoring criteria. Community project proposers put all this work into these proposals, most of which have no shot, because 1) why wouldn’t you take a shot and 2) staff are responding to city councils telling them to do so.

    I have to assume that some projects are on legislators’ priority lists and are almost guaranteed funding (or DEED will pay some price in the future). So staff will have to create or bend scoring systems to ensure a “fair” process.

    GOP = Gutless on Parade

  3. Submitted by jody rooney on 07/11/2012 - 10:37 am.

    The trouble with using the stated criteria

    I’m an economist and have about a billion dollars worth of projects (in today’s dollars) that I personally have economically justified scattered around the region. The criteria stated for use by the commissioner is economic criteria and if that is the only criteria identified and I speak from years of experience when I say there is an explicit bias in this criteria. In other words the rich get richer.

    These criteria and I know how to use all of these tools for measurement: “economic development benefits, leverage of funding, regional impact and job creation” all favor urbanized areas because they have the economy to “capture” all of the benefits. A community like Truman or Kasson will be unable to capture the benefits locally because because the economic sectors are missing. Even if you are looking on a regional basis some of these sectors are missing if not literally then for all practical purposes.

    If that is the criteria then fund everything in the metro areas away from state boarders where there will be leakage and in the absence of competition you will maximize the economic return.

    DEED is in the economic business and I think that is good but there are social equity and other criteria that I think we would want to be included in the evaluation and it isn’t just geographic distribution.

    1. Are there more appropriate or easily identified other sources of funding?

    Measurement may include:

    Available tax capacity: I would be hard pressed to believe that Bloomington couldn’t find 1.5 million somewhere other than through this program, the same with Maple Grove or Becker.

    Availability of other programs both state and federal that fund such projects: wastewater and street projects come to mind – although a grant may be needed for the local share match

    2. Immediacy of need, timeliness of investment, and return period of investment. Will the project still be used 20 years from now? Some of the industrial park and school projects come to mind as things that may not be immediately needed or school consolidation may negate the long term need.

    3. Are there comparable facilities with in the commuting area or region? Not everyone needs their own 5000 seat civic center.

    4. What is the most likely alternative if this isn’t funded? Flood damage at Truman, vs a bumpy ride on Winona streets.

    In addition to the criteria above I know at least one of these projects list is being constructed this summer, clearly they found the money so do check that the need is real.

  4. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/11/2012 - 10:42 am.

    This would be my criteria

    Given the Chamber of Commerce’s allegiance to “small” government and the Republican party I would scratch all requests for business industrial park infrastructure or business incubators. If government money is bad for people who need food and health care it’s bad for business.Given Rybak’s ability find money in the existing budget for out of state billionaires I would scratch all requests from MPLS. I would scratch all sports requests, although I think the Saint’s stadium would be a good idea. And although I think the Southwest Light Rail is a great idea, since the Chamber helped put all the Republicans who killed it in office, they shouldn’t get a second bite of the public funding apple. If St. Cloud and Rochester want convention centers they need to convince the Republicans they’re electing to fund them or explain why public money is so bad for everyone else but good for them.

    I would give preference to public safety and health care, waste and water treatment, and basic infrastructure improvements. If we need a home for veterans somewhere we should build it. Fire and police stations, equipment etc. If anythings left over after that I’d take a second look at the SW light rail, and the Saint’s ball park.

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