The possibility of a new performing arts center at Central Lakes College in Brainerd has generated excitement among many people but here's a cautionary note to consider: The competition for state funding will be fierce this year.
"We'll be saying no to $3 out of every $4 in requests," Rep. Alice Hausman, DFL-St. Paul, said this week.
As chair of the House bonding committee, Hausman will oversee consideration of the $1.2 billion in bonding requests that have already come in from local units of government and the $2 million in bonding requests that have come in from state agencies. Hausman said she expects the bonding wish list to be about $4 billion when all the requests are in.
Among the more notable requests area $192 million to build a parking ramp at the Mall of America, college-level hockey arenas in Bemidji, Crookston and Duluth and $25 million for renovation or replacement of Midway Stadium and the construction of an adjacent soccer complex.
Backers of a performing arts center in Brainerd point out that one big distinction in favor of the project is the commitment of private money. Central Lakes College Foundation officials said they have $5 million in verbal pledges and could possibly raise up to $10 million for the center. This commitment will allow the state to get more bang for its buck in a performing arts center that will be a part of the Central Lakes College campus.
This is the time for those who have complained about the lack of first-rate performing arts venues to take action. Lawmakers must be convinced this is a regional project that will benefit communities throughout central Minnesota. Legislators do respond to what constituents tell them. The legislators must hear about the importance of this project and they have to hear it from ordinary voters through letters, e-mails, phone calls and in face-to-face conversations in coffee shops and public meetings.
The many friends of this project - of this long-sought dream -have their work cut out for them.
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