Facility on Ingersoll Avenue will be demolished and replaced, Steiner says

    When it comes to Crookston and Crookston-area projects that were fully included or excluded or partially funded as the debate around this year’s legislative bonding bill ebbed and flowed this spring, there’s good news and bad news with the final passage of the $988 million bill.

    On the good news side, Phase II of Polk County Environmental Services’ Solid Waste Expansion Project received the $9.25 million it requested. This comes on the heels of $8 million in Phase I funding included in the 2015 bonding bill. (No bonding bill was approved in 2016.)

    As a result, Polk County Environmental Services Director Jon Steiner tells the Times, Crookston will get a new Polk County Transfer Station on Ingersoll Avenue.

    The state funding includes a required local cost share, which has been budgeted.

    Phase I consisted of two main components, a new Beltrami County Transfer Station in Bemidji and upgrades and expansion at the Resource Recovery Facility in Fosston.

    In addition to the new transfer station in Crookston, Phase II primarily consists of additional equipment at the Fosston Resource Recovery Facility, a new Organic Compost Facility at the Landfill near Gentilly, and a new Hubbard County Transfer Station in Park Rapids.

    Phase I projects are in process or very near completion, Steiner said. Assuming funds are available in a timely manner, he said Phase II projects should be completed by the end of 2018.

    The cost-share formula with the state and waste-to-energy guidelines simply provide much more bang for the buck if Polk County constructs a new transfer station in Crookston, as opposed to updating the current facility that was constructed in the 1970s. Around $1 million in local funds will result in a new facility worth around $4 million, Steiner explained. If the county went the renovation route, the $1 million in local dollars would result in a $1.34 million renovation. Those numbers will likely increase, he added, since they were initially based on a project envisioned for funding in 2016.

    The current facility will be demolished and replaced with a new building on the same property and in the same general location on that property, he said. The facility will also have a new scale, equipment and tip floor. Steiner said both Polk and Hubbard county officials put the brakes on design work a year ago when the 2016 legislative session ended without a bonding bill. He said design work for the new Polk County Transfer Station in Crookston will resume this fall and winter.

NCFB wait continues

    On the bad news side, the wait continues for $3 million in state funding to be paired up with $3 million in local dollars to construct a new North Country Food Bank, likely on donated land on the west side of North Broadway, to the south of the soon-to-be-constructed Agassiz Townhomes development.

    “We are very disappointed that our building project was not included in the bonding bill signed by Governor Dayton,” Susie Novak, NCFB executive director, tells the Times.

    She said District 1 Sen. Mark Johnson, an East Grand Forks Republican, provided strong support, as did other legislators from both parties. “But in the end our project didn’t make the cut,” Novak added.

    The capital campaign to raise the $3 million in required local dollars continues, but she said the continued delays in state funding are certainly not helping the local cause.

    Simply put, Novak said, the NCFB’s expansive coverage territory in the region and the 220 charitable organizations it partners with demands a new, larger facility in Crookston.

    “Our ability to meet these growing needs has a profound impact on the well-being of our region,” she said. “And our building space needs are tied hand in hand with our ability to perform our core work.

    “It is extremely challenging to try and raise more money each year to distribute enough food to meet the needs of those struggling with hunger in our region,” Novak continued. “Now, on top of this, we also have to raise enough money for a suitable facility.”

    Indications so far are that the 2018 legislature will attempt to pass another “significant” bonding bill. Novak said NCFB will continue to pursue the inclusion of funding in that bill, “and we believe we have a strong chance of being included,” she added.