Governor supports restoration project

Recommends $2.7 million for Lake of the Isles improvements

Governor Tim Pawlenty's announced 2006 bonding recommendations include $2.7 million for Lake of the Isles restoration. The governor's support improves prospects for the project, says Rep. Margaret Anderson Kelliher (DFL 60-A).

&#8220It's really great for the project to get the governor's recommendation,” Kelliher said. &#8220Of course, I always would like [the recommendation] to be higher, closer to what the Park Board requested for this year, which was $5 million.”

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board estimates that it will take $5 million - about half of the total for the entire project - to complete improvements to the lake's water quality, eroding shoreline and damaged recreation facilities.

The lake was dredged from wetlands in the early part of the 20th century and has been susceptible to flooding since. In 2004, workers filled in parkland around the west bay and north arm of the lake, making it less susceptible to flooding by elevating it above the 100-year flood level.

Shoreline naturalization, landscaping and reconstruction of pedestrian paths, bridge rehabilitation, and repaving of the Lake of the Isles Parkway remain incomplete in the project begun in 2001.

The governor's recommendation includes $2 million in funding from the Legislature and another $700,000 from the Parks and Open Space Commission of the Metropolitan Council.

Kelliher, who sits on the House's Capital Investments Committee, said she will bring the recommendation up in the committee, but said she doesn't know if it will be heard.

She said if the Republican-controlled House and Democratic-Farmer-Labor-controlled Senate pass the requested partial funding, the remaining required funds would be requested in the biannual capital improvements bill for 2008.

&#8220One of the issues will be that Lake of the Isles get enough funding that can get it through the next couple of construction cycles,” Kelliher said. &#8220I'm cautiously optimistic.”

Parks Engineer Tim Brown said that if full funding were given this year, it would take until the end of the construction season next year - at the earliest - to complete the project.