The Excelsior City Council designated the replacement of the bandshell as the first phase in implementing the Commons Master Plan and appointed an advisory committee for designing a new bandshell at the regular meeting on Nov. 5. The master plan was approved by the council in 2017.
“The two most important things to get off the ground are getting the bandshell identified as phase one and appointing the project advisory committee,” Excelsior City Attorney Kevin Staunton said. “We’re looking for a clear statement from the council that you want the bandshell to be the first attempt at phase one of implementing the Commons Master Plan.”
The council members expressed their support as picking the bandshell as phase one of the project and moving along with updating the park.
“I’m super excited to get started on a project and have that be the bandshell,” Councilmember Jennifer Caron said. “If we can accomplish this first project that will be a very visible signal to the community that we’re going to execute on the rest of this plan.”
A study commissioned by the Community for the Commons estimates that the total cost for implementing the plan would be $20 million.
“It looked at what the cost might be associated with the Commons Master Plan,” Staunton said. “You remember way back at the beginning of the meeting when we talked about sales tax, we talked about $7 million. So, clearly more than the city is able to fund on its own.”
The council has already taken steps to help fund the master plan and was aided by the Minnesota Legislature approving the sales tax, which started this year and will stop being collected once it hits the $7 million mark.
“In May through June of this year, on the city side of the financing we made some pretty important strides towards implementation,” Staunton said. “First, the city council approved a commitment of $100,000 annually from the dock fund into moneys that could pay for implementation. Second, the council approved the transfer of $346,000 to the Commons Master Plan improvements. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the legislature approved the sales tax and that has the potential to raise $7 million over the next 25 years.”
Since the city is unable to fund the project on its own, city officials will have to work with community partners to help raise the funds for the improvements.
“The cost estimate for implementation of the entire plan, the $20 million is more than we’re capable of as a city. So, we need to facilitate a robust philanthropic effort with Community for the Commons as our partner,” Staunton said.
Replacing the bandshell would happen in four stages, design, drafting construction drawings and bid documents, soliciting bids and awarding a contract for construction.
The financing for the first phase is primarily funded by the city. The financing agreement was presented to the council but was not finalized.
“The city contributing for this project, for phase one, 75% of the funding and Community for the Commons raising 25% of the funding,” Staunton said.
However, the bandshell project would only move to the second stage after Community for the Commons has raised half of its share. The project would only move to the third and fourth stages after the entire portion of the group’s share had been raised.
“We don’t know exactly what those will be, right now we have about a $2 million estimate through the design phase we are going to learn more,” Staunton said.
Decisions related to the project will be subject to council approval.
“One of the important things to remember here is we are not talking about committing to anything at this point other than picking the bandshell as your first crack at this and starting the process,” Staunton said.