Local Cities Share Common Legislative Priority: LRT
It was a who’s who of local government leaders gathering Saturday morning in Crystal for the annual legislative breakfast.
“It’s huge because of the networking,” said New Hope Mayor Kathi Hemken. “We get to network with the other mayors, we get to network with the councils, with the legislators. And just all the people who come to these meetings, it’s really a big deal.”
Hemken joined her counterparts from Golden Valley, Brooklyn Park, Crystal and Robbinsdale for an opportunity to let state lawmakers know what they want in this year’s legislative session.
Each city has unique requests.
For New Hope, it’s money for a 50-meter swimming pool.
“We need about $2 million extra to make that swimming pool from a 25-meter pool to a 50-meter pool,” Hemken said. “So we’ve asked the Legislature for $2 million in a bonding bill. Haven’t heard yet, but that is our major priority for this season.”
And in Golden Valley, one of their big needs is a pedestrian underpass under Highway 55 near the Perpich Center for arts Education.
“So that commuters and students can safely cross in this case, under Highway 55, as opposed to dangerously crossing Highway 55,” said Golden Valley Mayor Shep Harris.
But the one common denominator linking all of the cities is the status of the Metro Blue Line Extension project.
“We really want to make sure that we get everything checked off the list that needs to be checked off the list at the state Capitol,” Harris said. “To make sure that that can go forward at the federal level.”
The Metropolitan Council chair was present to address that issue.
“I think about eight or nine of the miles are co-located with a freight railroad, and one of the big next steps is to obtain approval from the railroad to co-locate in their corridor,” said Alene Tchourumoff, chair of the Met Council.
In other words, the process is ongoing. But people here say they’ll keep fighting until a light rail train is moving down Bottineau Boulevard.
“Our goal is to be a ceaseless advocate for the Blue Line,” said Brooklyn Park Mayor Jeff Lunde. “And we remain focused on that. We don’t worry about jumping ahead or jumping behind. We want Blue Line now.”
State lawmakers say that the bonding requests were upwards of $4 billion. Governor Mark Dayton’s bonding recommendation was around $1.5 billion. It will be up to state lawmakers to decide how many projects to approve in this year’s session.