Along with Sen. Lyle Koenen and Rep. Andrew Falk, the House Capital Investment Committee was in Montevideo to hear testimony on the need for funding to complete phase 3 of Montevideo’s flood mitigation plan, and a proposal for the veterans home project.
Montevideo’s 15-year flood mitigation plan has been split into three phases. Phase one of the project rebuilt and improved the levee along Highway 7 near city hall. Phase 2 raised the levee near the water treatment plant and raised Highway 212.
Phase 3, an estimated $3 million project, would finish the long-term goal of protecting Montevideo from flooding by raising the 1969 levee.
Montevideo City Manager Steve Jones led the committee on a bus tour around Montevideo, showing them the improvements along Highway 7, and how good of shape the levee was in for most of Montevideo.
“They used almost a million sandbags in 1997, and then 2,500 in 2011,” Jones said.
When the bus drove alongside the 1969 levee, several representatives pointed out how much worse the old levee looked, when compared to the newer work and how much lower it was.
Jones went on to explain that not only would finishing phase 3 finish protecting Montevideo, but it would also have benefits for the state. He explained that a flood could cause Highway 212, Highway 7 and Highway 59 to close down, creating a challenge for the state as a whole for travel to or from the west.
He also explained an economic benefit for the state. As the Montevideo flood mitigation plan improves, costs for the state to fight floods decreases. “The cost to fight the flood in 1997 and 2001 were about $1 million, the 2009 flood cost about $250,000, and the 2011 flood was less than $100,000,” he said.
Back at city hall, the committee heard from Angie Steinbach, Montevideo’s community development director, and Marv Garbe, city council president and veterans home chairman, on Montevideo’s veterans home project.
Pledges of $2 million have already been collected for the project, and another $9 million is needed to begin.
The project would serve veterans from around the region, and would address a growing demand for veterans services across the state of Minnesota. Steinbach explained where a Montevideo veteran home would fit in for the state.
Cities around the state have submitted competing requests, though Montevideo city staff believe they have the most complete, and up-to-date plan.
“What is the level of nursing skill in the proposal?” asked Rep. Karen Clark. “One of my concerns is that we need a full spectrum.”
For more on this story and others subscribe or pick up a copy of the Montevideo American-News.