Government Notes

Financially, city benefits if Guthrie stays parked

Guthrie Theater proponents and Walker Art Center officials are battling about whether the theater should remain standing once the Guthrie moves to the downtown riverfront. But from a dollars and cents perspective, the city won’t mind if the Guthrie stays put for a while.

The city will sell $25 million in bonds to pay for a 700-stall underground parking facility, slated to open in Fall 2003. Parking fees will pay off the bonds.

Mike Sachi, a city public works engineer, told the City Council Ways and Means Committee on July 8 that the city will benefit financially if the Guthrie operates where it is.

"The parking ramp will benefit with the added events due to the Guthrie being there," he told committee members. "From our standpoint, the longer the Guthrie continues to operate, the more business the parking ramp will generate."

The planned parking ramp would be built under the Walker expansion and behind the existing Guthrie. The theater would not have to be modified in any way to accommodate new parking, Sachi said.

The council has approved the Walker’s $90-million expansion but is still considering a Guthrie demolition. If the Walker succeeds, the Guthrie would probably be torn down in 2005. The Guthrie’s plans were put on hold by Gov. Jesse Ventura’s veto of a $30-million state subsidy.

Sachi said that the city will gross $3 million a year from the ramp. "After expenses," he said, "it will probably clear $300,000 to $400,000 a year."

Sachi cautioned that two tenants will mean overflow parking problems for neighbors. That’s because the city’s plans assume that the Guthrie will be gone early in the ramp’s existence, Sachi said.

"It doesn’t make sense to build 1,200 spaces to try to accommodate the Guthrie and the Walker’s needs when the Guthrie is looking at moving to the river," he said.

Sachi said ramp excavation will begin within a month. The Walker will pay $12.5 million toward ramp construction costs.

Ex-Massachusetts legislator forces SW DFL primary

A former Democratic Massachusetts state legislator transplanted to Linden Hills is taking the race for the open Senate District 60 seat to a DFL primary Sept. 10.

Rick Roche, who served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in the late ’70s and early ’80s, is challenging DFL endorsee Scott Dibble.

Dibble, a Kingfield resident, currently represents District 60B in the state House of Representatives. The former City Council aide announced his candidacy in late March, saying he wants to carry on in the tradition of retiring DFL Sen. Myron Orfield and previous DFL Sen. Allan Spear.

District 60 covers Bryn Mawr, Lowry Hill, Lowry Hill East, East Isles, Kenwood, CIDNA, West Calhoun, ECCO, CARAG, East Harriet, Linden Hills, Tangletown and parts of Lyndale, Kingfield and Lynnhurst.

Roche, who works in the financial services industry, acknowledges his underdog status. He said he is challenging Dibble to give voters a choice, which he suggested the party’s endorsement process denies them.

"I just believe that a majority of the DFL voters should decide this district, not a smaller select number of party activists or party leaders," he said.

Roche has fought to stop new nuclear power plants and wants to prevent the federal government from transporting nuclear wastes through large cities, including Minneapolis, to long-term storage at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain site.

He was first elected to office as a 24-year-old. Roche has lived in Southwest with his wife and two children since 1995.