Local Opinion - Times’ June 21 article on the Old Cathedral/CHEDA: Hegge responds

Kay Hegge
Prairie Skyline Foundation Chair

    This is a follow up to CT’s online report on CHEDA's Board Meeting dated, June 21st, 2020, and written by Mike Christopherson.

    Crookston is in desperate need of a Community Development department. Crookston’s focus has mostly been about flood issues. A few years back when the City handed over to Crookston's Housing and Redevelopment Authority (CHEDA) $300,000 in Community Development Funds, I was vocal about the need for there to be an application process attached to the distribution of those funds.

    On July 13th, 2017, Craig Hoiseth and I met and I asked for CHEDA to act as the fiscal agent and for cash flow help in applying for a large “legacy “ grant application to fix the roofs on the old Cathedral,

    I explained that part of the application process for the coveted “Legacy” grant the grant had to be written in such a way that it required benchmarks (timeline) completions to release more funds. These benchmarks set by the State were not well related to construction flow and therefore cash flow.  Mr. Hoiseth said he thought that this issue would not be a problem. With that consideration, PSF went ahead and submitted the application for the “Legacy “ grant

    In November of 2018, the Prairie Skyline Foundation was awarded the “Legacy” grant. It is true, that we hit some snags along the way, such as unexpected costs for: “Architectural Administration” and extra cost for redundant insurance policies. To help move the bidding along, I attended the City’s long-range planning session in March of 2019, and requested funds ( $40,000) to cover additional expenses. On July 17th, 2019, I was asked by a working group of Board of CHEDA and the City, which included Craig Hoiseth, Kurt Heldstab, Jake Fee and Clayton Briggs to provide more information as to the above request.  I  provided them with copies of the grant application, the grant budget, the grant award, the grant contract with the milestones to be completed, the PSF Financials, PSF Financial Plan, PSFs 501c status, PSF Bylaws, PSF Articles of Incorporation, PSFs 12 page plan for the “Young at Hart Center” and PSFs Construction Documents.

    We found an architect, Michael J. Burns, whose bid was less than $20,000, which allowed us to ask for the States permission to use the contingency funds from the grant to allow us to hire the Architect. This allowed us to proceed without the City's help and we were able to find a great contractor, Naseth Construction.

    PSF applied and received an extension on the Legacy grant because of the late fall start. The deadline for completion is this fall. Roof work and matching in-kind labor and the costs on the floor must also be completed.

    Crookston’s Mayor, Dale Stainbrook, Craig Morgan, and other members of the CHEDA Board along with other attendees appeared (based on the referenced Times article) to have not received the above-listed documents. It seems a bit of an overkill to request a presentation in person during Covid-19 for information that has already been provided. Certainly, a Zoom or Team meeting are available if a meeting is still necessary.

    The construction work on the old Cathedral on Ash has two deadlines, Mother Nature’s deadline (Winter), and the Legacy grant deadline.

    CHEDA needs to make its intentions truly clear. Will it do its job to ensure the success of the work on the iconic old Cathedral on Ash, or through its time delays and passive actions is CHEDA actively hurting this amazing project? It will cost 8% interest which is 8% less work done on the roofs, plus dissatisfied contractors and even future funding at risk.

    We expect CHEDA to stand up for creative placemaking, community development, and completely endorse the Community Center in the Old Cathedral project. Otherwise, Crookston needs to take back the dollars and create a  staffed and funded Community Development department.