Bonding bill includes amphitheater shading structure funds
Phase 2 of 3-phase project
NEW ULM — The $1.87 billion infrastructure bonding bill recently approved by the Minnesota House and Senate includes a $300,000 grant to the City of New Ulm for a permanent shade structure in the German Park amphitheater.
Pending signature from Gov. Tim Walz, the grant would allow the City of New Ulm to design, install and equip the structure, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I’ve been working on this for six years. Apparently, it’s going to come to fruition,” said New Ulm Park and Recreation Director Tom Schmitz. “This is huge. Good news for the city and region to finally have state assistance in the bonding bill. A huge thank you to our legislators Sen. Gary Dahms (R-Redwood Falls) and Rep. Paul Torkelson (R-Hanska) and Gov. Walz.”
Schmitz said the Friends of German Park were instrumental in helping improve the park since the early 1990s.
“The City of New Ulm and private donations have generated $950,000 for park improvements,” Schmitz said. “Phase 1, the base structure is complete with some local American Artstone work. Phase 2 is the shade structure.”
Schmitz said fundraising continues for phase 3 band shell improvements that would make it more conducive for use by bands, plus an acoustical backdrop and railings to make it easier to hear and see bands. An elevator lift would make it easier for bands to reach the bandstand.
One proposal is a Wenger Showmobile mobile stage and canopy with a cantilevered, acoustical shell, built-in overhead LED lights, leveling jacks, stairways and more.
Schmitz said the amphitheater can be used for all types of public and private art, musical and theatrical events, and other things.
“We’re already taking reservations for 2021 weddings in the amphitheater,” Schmitz said. “An amphitheater grand opening is tentatively set for next spring, pending COVID-19.”
The bonding bill also includes funding for:
• A $14 million grant for Scenic Byway 6 reconstruction in Sibley County to design, engineer, acquire right-of-way for, construct improvements to Sibley County State Aid Highway 6, known as Scenic Byway 6. The road would be raised to meet the 50-year flood level, provide for a walking and bicycling lane, and reconstruct the intersection of Scenic Byway 6 and Sibley County State Aid Highway 5.
• A $10 million grant to the Minnesota Valley Regional Rail Authority to rehabilitate a portion of the railroad track between Winthrop and Hanley Falls. Funds may be used for any required environmental analysis and remediation, predesign, design, and rehabilitation of bridges with new bridges or culverts between Winthrop and Hanley Falls.
• A $1.8 million grant for projects eligible for general obligation bond proceeds associated with the reconstruction of marked U.S. Highway 169 to raise roadway elevation and prevent river flooding closures.
“The best part of the bonding bill this year are the sections pertaining to transportation, dollars for sewer and water upgrades in our cities and small communities, and Section 179 tax relief,” Dahms said.
The bill also includes some tax reforms that benefit small businesses and farmers.
Chapter 179 federal tax conformity for farmers and main street businesses allows farmers and other small business owners to deduct depreciation on large equipment purchases on their taxes, which will stimulate the economy with investments in their operations.
The bill does not provide funds to rebuild Minneapolis businesses damaged during this summer’s riots. Instead, it reimburses law enforcement agencies for their work quelling riots. It includes an 8.4% pay hike for state troopers.
The bill would also provide pay raises for health care attendants.
(Fritz Busch can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).