City applies for first in series of downtown grants

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Another step is being made in the long process of downtown redevelopment.

The city of Albert Lea will be submitting a grant application to the Minnesota Department of Trade and Economic Development (DTED) for $578,450 improvements to Lea Center.

&uot;I’m very excited about it,&uot; City Councilor George Marin said after the Monday night city council meeting. &uot;I think we need to push these things as far as we can.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

Marin asked during the meeting if the city could ask for more grant money. City Manager Paul Sparks replied that the amount being asked for was little less than the limit for the grant application.

City Planner Bob Graham, in a letter to Sparks and the council, wrote that the DTED receives 100 applications each year, out of which one third are granted.

The city will hear back from the state between Jan. 1 and March 1, according to Sparks.

This is the first of a series of grant applications that the city will file. Sparks said that the city will apply for almost $2 million over the next few years. The next grant application will be for a multi-year grant for more general downtown redevelopment projects.

Sparks said the city must wait until the next funding cycle to start the multi-year grant application.

The money received from a grant would only be 11.5 percent of the money required for the renovation process. Seven percent would come from money raised from Tax Increment Financing, 24 percent would come from the Port Authority, Greater Jobs Inc., the Chamber of Commerce and the Community Foundation. Eighty-one percent, or $4,060,140 will be required from the developer.

The renovation of the Lea Center will make available 37 apartments and commercial space as well.

Other council news:

– The council delayed making a decision on whether or not it would join with the county for lake restoration funding.

The Lake Restoration Committee, headed by Don Sorenson, has addressed the city Monday night and asked that the city and county fund $500,000 in the next fiscal year for lake restoration.

The city is being asked to put in $150,000 to the county’s $350,000. The city chose to delay their decision until after a joint meeting with the County on Nov. 4.

The Lake Restoration Committee said that they will ask the state Board of Water and Soil Resources (BWSR) to establish a Shell Rock Watershed District if the city and county do not cooperate. The district would be its own govermental entity and would not be held to include the city or county governments in its decision making.

– The city approved a tentative contract with AFSCME Local 1018, the union for the police, fire, utilities, and parks and recreation departments of the city.

The new contract has a few changes in vacation hours increases over employment tenure, a health care savings plan, severance pay, and wage increases. The salary schedule will see a 3.5 percent increase in 2003, 3 percent in 2004 and 3 percent in 2005.

The contract has yet to be approved by the union,but according to Sparks, the sides have tentatively agreed.