It wasn’t that long ago, late October in fact, that Wayzata city officials hosted the Minnesota Senate Capital Investment Committee to educate them on the importance of a boardwalk and ecological restoration along the shoreline of Lake Minnetonka as a part of Panoway’s (formerly Lake Effect) Phase II.
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ultimately recommended $10 million for a grant to the City of Wayzata.
The money is a part of a $300 million proposed investment in water quality and infrastructure projects which is part of the 2020 bonding bill.
Phase II includes the restoration of the Section Foreman House, building a boardwalk along the lakefront, and restoring the Lake Minnetonka shoreline.
Phase I is already underway – reconstructing Lake Street from Barry Avenue to Broadway Avenue, creating a multi-use park, and extending the Dakota Rail Regional Trail.
Of course, virtually everything in our lives have changed the past few months. The COVID-19 outbreak has shifted the way we live, the way we work. Stay home is the new norm.
But one thing hasn’t changed since late October; the bonding bill being discussed at the Capital is still alive.
You see, the hundreds of millions of dollars the state is spending to battle COVID-19 comes from a different pot.
“In government, there are different buckets of money concerning state finances,” said Rep. Jerry Hertaus (Greenfield) who represents Wayzata at the Capitol. “Revenues are going to be greatly and negatively affected resulting from COVID-19 resulting from shutting down so much of our private sector economy.”
But the bonding bill is a different story.
“Bonding is borrowed money aside from the general fund. In light of an economy needing to be kick started again, public spending is often helpful for the near term,” added Hertaus.
“The legislature is focused, at the moment, on addressing the emergency needs and overall situation with the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Sen. Paul Anderson (Plymouth) who has co-authored the Senate bill with Sen. David J. Osmek (Mound) seeking money for the Wayzata project. “Although we haven’t lost sight of the importance for passing a bonding bill this session, we do need to put the safety and well-being of Minnesotans ahead of those discussions at this time.”
Much like the state legislature, the immediate focus for the City of Wayzata is the community’s safety.
“All bonding-related efforts have ceased in order to give the needed attention to addressing public health and the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wayzata City Manager Jeff Dahl.
As things unexpectedly changed in the past couple of months in Wayzata, the state and the nation as a whole, it’s impossible to predict what will happen between now and the end of the legislative session in mid-May.
But we do know that, for now, the $10 million for Panoway Project’s Phase II is still on the table.
A bill has been introduced in both the House and the Senate. The House bill is HF 3381. The Senate Bill is SF 3096. You can track the progress of both bills here.
“I would expect there to be a bonding bill this year,” said Sen. Hertaus. “The size of it is yet to be determined and the challenge will be to define those projects that would provide the greatest amount of benefit. Some would say separating the local needs from the wants. Whether or not the Lake Effect (Panoway) project in Wayzata is to be included is not certain. We will have to wait and see.”
“While the City’s focus right now is primarily on addressing the public health crisis, we are in full support of bonding dollars for Phase II if a bonding bill should move forward,” said Dahl.
“When the bonding bill comes back into the conversation in the weeks to come, rest assured we will be advocating strongly for the Lake Effect (Panoway) project to be included,” said Anderson.
Wayzata.com will continue to track the bonding bill progression and the status of the bills directly related to Wayzata’s project.