Duluth Mayor, Councilor Clash over Wade Stadium
Posted at: 03/28/2013 5:30 PM
| Updated at: 03/28/2013 10:54 PM
By: Travis Dill
A wall collapsed at Duluth's Wade Stadium last week, and conflicting ideas on how to move forward came from City Hall on Thursday.
City Councilor Jim Stauber and Mayor Don Ness both want the renovations completed, but they disagree on when it should happen.
Renovations for Wade Stadium were discussed last year. Duluth requested $4 million in bonding money from the state legislature, and Stauber said the city should ask for it again this year.
Mayor Ness wants to wait. Ness announced a new, longer plan to fund stadium renovations on Thursday at City Hall. He wants to finalize the project designs this year, and seek state bonding money for construction next summer.
The Huskies General Manager Craig Smith supported that vision at City Hall.
“We need to stay the course of the current planning that's going on and not make rash decisions and rush into things just because humpty dumpty fell off the wall,” Smith said.
But Stauber wants to try for construction funding now.
“Wade Stadium has belonged to this city. It's a landmark. It needs to be funded, and if there is bonding this year by the state legislature I want to see that Wade Stadium gets that bonding first,” Stauber said.
Stauber doesn't know why more design work is needed. He said the mayor called the project shovel-ready last year.
“We were told last year, that they were ready and they knew what the costs were going to be and it was going to be $8.1 million,” Stauber said.
The city would have to match any state money. Under the mayor's plan, Duluth voters would have to renew a .5 percent food and beverage tax this fall.
“That would be a possible source that the city could come dedicate those dollars into the future to help provide the local match and make this renovation possible,” Ness said.
But Stauber said the city could take money from a reserve fund.
Both leaders want Wade Stadium to be repaired , but the debate over how and when to fund the project has just begun.
Councilor Stauber introduced a resolution to make Wade Stadium the city's top bonding priority. The city council is expected to vote on that April 1.