Expansion of a children’s service center renovation, replacement of state facilities and accessibility improvements around the state were among items included in a bonding package approved by the 2014 Minnesota Legislature and signed by Gov. Mark Dayton. The total bonding package is about $1 billion. Of that amount $84 million is in the bonding bill itself; another $200 million was allocated separately.
The biggest winner may have been St. Peter facilities. The Minnesota Security Hospital was awarded $56.317 million for design, construction and remodeling needs, with another $7.405 million to pay for similar work at the Minnesota Sex Offender Program. Minnesota Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson made the requests a priority, visiting the hospital in the spring to highlight some of the safety needs.
During her visit, Jesson met with employees of the hospital and the offenders’ program, which share the St. Peter campus. The improvements would help physically separate the distinct programs onto the upper and lower campuses.
Another group that saw success with its request is St. David’s Center in Minnetonka. The center, which serves children with special needs, was awarded $3.75 million in bond funding to expand and renovate its current campus. The bonding moves St. David’s closer to its goal of raising $12.2 million. The nonprofit has been raising money for expansion since 2012 and had $7.4 million in hand going into the legislative session.
Expansion will help the center add more services for children. The proposed 6,000 square foot expansion includes redesigned and expanded autism day treatment classrooms, on-site therapy rooms, a children’s mental health clinic and improved early childhood education environments. Once the expanded center is up and running, St. David’s will be able to increase the number of children and families served. The center has been in existence for more than 50 years and currently serves almost 2,000 children and families.
A third human service request that was approved was $195,000 for Remembering With Dignity. It provides grave markers and other ways to honor persons who are buried at state institutions, replacing numbered markers with names. Remembering With Dignity is a program of the self-advocacy group Advocating Change Together (ACT).
In education funding, the Minnesota State Academies for the Blind and Deaf in Faribault received $700,000 in asset preservation funding and $10.654 million for dormitory replacement. The dormitory needing replacement is Frechette Hall, the boys’ dormitory on the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf campus. Fund will be used to demolish and replace the dorms, and to convert other space into student living quarters during the dormitory construction period.
A number of projects included accessible improvements as part of larger renovation or construction packages. These include Duluth’s NorShor Theater renovations, at $6.95 million, and access improvements at Mud Lake Regional Park in Oakdale at $150,000.