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Duluth Projects Seek State Bonding Money

Posted at: 04/03/2013 10:35 PM
Updated at: 04/03/2013 10:36 PM
By: Travis Dill
tdill@wdio.com

Duluth leaders addressed a senate committee on Wednesday and said they need state bonding money before they can start digging on shovel-ready projects.

Senator Roger Reinert led the push for three Duluth projects at Wednesday's committee meeting in St. Paul.

Reinert said Duluth needs nearly $5 million to restore the NorShor Theatre downtown. The building has been vacant for nearly three years, and the investment would help the local economy according to Duluth Playhouse Executive Director Christine Gradl Seitz.

“A restored NorShor will provide jobs, it will attract tourism and it will stimulate further investments in Duluth,” Seitz said.

She also mentioned that this larger venue would attract national acts that currently pass up Duluth.

A 600 square foot section of Wade Stadium collapsed last month. Reinert said that motivated him to ask for $5.7 million to fund stadium renovations. City Architect Tari Rayala said drainage problems are the major problem.

“If the funding doesn't ever come through we'll just keep hanging in there band-aiding what we can to make do with what we have, but it's that kind of postponing of repair work that has gotten us into the shape we're in right now,” Rayala said.

The funding would pay for artificial turf that would fix the drainage and allow the stadium to open earlier and close later every year.

And Spirit Mountain uses a lot of city water when creating snow for the slopes. Over $3 million would let the resort draw water from the St. Louis River according to Executive Director Renee Mattson.

“So having this pipe into the St. Louis river for us simply as the mayor stated takes us from taking the water 26 miles across town to a pipe that's only 2,000 feet from our front door,” Mattson said.

She said that would also be better for the environment than using the city's water that is treated with fluorine and chlorine.

Reinert said the Duluth projects are small compared to requests from other communities. He said some cities are asking for over $50 million so he is confident all three can be funded in Duluth.

Reinert said the next step is waiting for Governor Mark Dayton to recommend bonding projects, and he expected that to happen later this week.