Regional events center, Paul Bunyan Trail head to final House committee
Two of Bemidji's bonding proposals headed Thursday to their final committee stop in the Minnesota House. The House Capital Investment Committee will now craft a state building projects bill that hopefully will include funding for both a regional ...
Two of Bemidji's bonding proposals headed Thursday to their final committee stop in the Minnesota House.
The House Capital Investment Committee will now craft a state building projects bill that hopefully will include funding for both a regional events center and the Paul Bunyan Trail.
"We're not home yet, but this is a big step in the right direction," Rep. Frank Moe, DFL-Bemidji, said Thursday night.
Earlier, the House Jobs and Economic Development Committee sent the Bemidji regional events center proposal on to the Capital Investment Committee with a "very favorable" recommendation.
"That's the top one," Moe said of the panel's priority listing in issuing recommendations. "Only a handful of projects got that out of 60 projects considered."
The proposal asks for $3 million in planning and design funds as well as site acquisition monies toward the $35 million center. The city would return in 2008 for about $14 million in state bonding for the project, with the remainder hopefully coming from the city's half-cent sales tax once it has expired in its use for parks and trails improvements.
"When completed, the events center will not only be an economic engine for Bemidji and the region, but also a new home for Bemidji State hockey," Moe said. "The committee was obviously impressed with the project and the broad support it has from the Bemidji area.
"It really shows what a good job the community has done in showing the governor and lawmakers that this project benefits the region and state," he said.
The project will be heard in the next couple of weeks in the Capital Investment Committee, but Moe notes that the panel's chairman, Rep. Dan Dorman, R-Albert Lea, has been in Bemidji to hear from officials and that House Speaker Steve Sviggum, R-Kenyon, has given his support for the project.
And Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty included the full $3 million in his $897 million bonding bill.
Less certain is progress for the measure in the DFL-controlled Senate, where Sen. Carrie Ruud, R-Breezy Point, carries the bill.
"They are playing it pretty close to the chest there," Moe said. "They understand the project and see the need for the project. We just don't know if it's in the bill yet."
The project will be a key lobbying item when busloads of Bemidjians head to St. Paul on March 28 for Bemidji Day at the Capitol.
"The strength has been in all of our people being unified in a Bemidji voice here at the Capitol, especially for the events center," Moe said. "That is really resonating down here."
Also advancing Thursday was a $2 million bonding request for land acquisition for the Paul Bunyan Trail in the city of Bemidji. The project was part of a state trails bonding bill.
Moe said the House Agriculture, Environment and Natural Resources Finance Committee sent it to the Capital Investment Committee with recommendation to pass.
That panel, however, did not rank its recommendations, Moe said.