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Erik Burgess, Published June 18 2012

Moorhead postpones support for grant for second Bluestem stage

MOORHEAD – The City Council decided to postpone support Monday for a state grant application that would have gone toward a $2.5 million second stage for the Bluestem Center for the Arts. City officials said the plan for the proposed second stage for Bluestem was not far enough along with the state grant deadline looming on June 26.

“It’s not designed. It’s not ready to go for construction this year,” City Manager Michael Redlinger said.

Redlinger said there is somewhat strict criteria for receiving these state grants, made available through the Department of Employment and Economic Development. The project must be far beyond the conceptual planning stages, he said, and the local subdivision – in this case, the city of Moorhead – must pass resolutions of support. The city would also have to cover 50 percent of the proposed project bill. The second Bluestem stage did not meet the grant application requirements at this time, Redlinger said.

The city did approve an application for another state grant that would help finance a new $5.3 million Moorhead Public Services substation and transmission line. According to the proposal passed by the council, only one-third of the cost would be asked for at the grant level – $1.8 million. Assistant City Manager Scott Hutchins said this is to make sure the project is even discussed at the state level, as the grant field is very competitive. The substation and transmission line will improve electric reliability in the city, Hutchins said.

The state of Minnesota appropriated $47.5 million to this new grant program this year, and it was set in place to allocate funds for public improvement projects, according to City Council documents. Funds provided under the program may pay up to 50 percent of the development costs.

Other projects competing for this state money include the St. Paul Saints Baseball Field, the St. Cloud Civic Center, the Wadena Regional Wellness Center and a Rochester Mayo Clinic expansion.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Erik Burgess at (701) 241-5518