RED WING, Minn. — Old West Main's walking bridge proposal is moving forward. The vote to approve or deny the project has not yet been taken, however steps have been made to make it possible to continue working on the project.
On Tuesday, Red Wing City Council members approved a plan to purchase property between Kelly’s Tap House Bar and Grill and Bayside from Kelly Anderson for $110,000.
If the bridge is built, a building currently sitting on the plot of land between the two businesses will be torn down and Anderson will have the first opportunity to take items (windows, doors, etc.) from the property. If the bridge is voted down, Anderson can buy back the land for $110,000.
While council members have said that they have heard from numerous people in favor of the project — including business owners who attended the May 13 meeting and explained their excitement for the possible connection to the park and waterfront — the only community member to talk about the bridge on Tuesday’s meeting was George Hintz.
“I am opposed to using state bonding for local, feel-good projects. You in essence, are taxing Red Wing taxpayers twice, local and state.” Hintz said.
Currently, the bridge is estimated to cost $2.5 million. There is a request for $1,260,552 in state bonding being processed and about $1 million awarded in grants and federal funds. The remaining $232,230 needed is pending council approval in the 2020 budget.
While council member John Becker voted against the step of buying the land for the bridge, the other five members (council member Kim Beise was absent) were in support of both buying the land and creating the pedestrian bridge.
“I don’t believe this project really only benefits a few. I think there’s a lot of reasons to think it benefits a lot of people," Evan Brown, the council vice president said. "One of the reasons is that we’re going to be looking at three riverboat companies (cruise lines) within the next few years and that’ll be, at some point, over a boat a day. And that kind of activity, I believe, is worth an investment in our riverfront to tie it to a commercial district, to create flows that create energy. I know lots of cities that have riverfronts invest in these ways. They invest in this because they’re trying to create those commercial corridors, capture those dollars.”
Council President Dean Hove echoed Brown’s approval of buying the property on Old West Main Street and building a pedestrian bridge.
“If for some reason the bridge doesn’t happen, we haven’t really invested much money at all. Maybe a couple two to three thousand bucks by the time we’re done at most,” he said.