By John Myers, Duluth News Tribune
Gov. Mark Dayton’s first draft of a state construction bonding bill includes $4.5 million for the first phase of construction at the new Lake Vermilion State Park but little else new for Northeastern Minnesota.
The money would go to develop formal design plans as the Department of Natural Resources begins to build roads, campsites, picnic grounds and other facilities at the state’s newest park near Tower.
It would be the first major construction money for a process that’s expected to take until at least 2020 to complete. The state purchased the 3,000-acre site last year from U.S. Steel for $18 million.
Dayton’s $1 billion proposal, which will now face wholesale changes in the Republican-controlled Legislature, includes dozens of small projects, many labeled as “asset protection” to update and repair existing public facilities — but few large new projects in Northeastern Minnesota.
Dayton’s fix-up plan includes:
New roofs, heating and ventilation systems and restrooms at various community colleges and new elevators in some University of Minnesota Duluth buildings and buildings at the Cloquet Forestry Center.
$10 million for the state’s wastewater treatment infrastructure fund, which includes projects in Duluth to stop sewage overflows into Lake Superior.
$6 million for local airports around the state, including Eveleth-Virginia and Grand Marais.
$4.8 million for road and bridge repairs at state forests, parks and wildlife management areas.
$4 million for National Guard Armory repairs statewide, including efforts at the Duluth armory.
$3 million for ports statewide, including Duluth, St. Paul, Winona and Red Wing.
$2.5 million statewide for veterans facilities, including multiple renovation and repair projects at the Silver Bay Veterans Home.
Most of the big projects in Dayton’s proposal are in southern and western Minnesota, including $28 million for flood protection,
$51 million for a new physics and nanotechnology building at the University of Minnesota, $20 million for a new St. Paul Saints baseball stadium and $28 million to upgrade Rochester’s Mayo Civic Center.
During the news conference announcing the bill, Dayton declared his plan “a Jobs Now Bill to put people back to work all over the state.”
The state builds major public facilities by issuing bonds and repaying the money over time, usually about 15 years.