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Wells receives State monies for new roads

By Staff | Jan 10, 2016

There could be big changes ahead for Wells come this spring.

The city of Wells was awarded grants totaling a little more than $550,000 from Minnesota’s Transportation Economic Development program.

According to a press release from Governor Mark Dayton and Lt. Governor Tina Smith, the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT), in partnership with the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), has awarded $32 million in grants for multiple projects in the state that will support growing industry and businesses, leverage private funding, and improve the transportation system for all users.

City administrator Robin Leslie stated that Wells plans to develop a business park on the north side of the city.

“We were awarded $147,800 from MnDOT and $407,000 from DEED bonds. Things are very preliminary right now, as we will need to secure the rest of the funding for the project and City Council has not yet voted on this, either,” said Leslie.

She says the grant money that the city was awarded will go towards an eight lot development along with two turn lanes off of Highway 22.

The project has the potential to bring in 140 jobs within the next five years, which is a key component to receiving the grant money.

“DEED is a group that specifically deals with employment and economic opportunity,” said Leslie. “This project is going to create additional tax base and jobs in town that will hopefully create somewhat of a domino effect. More businesses for more people which will bring in more opportunity for housing development in Wells, too.”

The park at the current moment is farm land.

“We will have to put in all of the utilities electric, sewer, and water as well as grading the area and putting in a retention pond. It’s a big project with big potential,” she said.

But, Wells cannot count its eggs, yet. Leslie says that because all the finances are not secured, and council still has to vote on the project, Leslie says there could be many changes in the future.

“It is a zygote of a project right now very small. The plan or the layout could change, or the council may not want to continue the project,” Leslie said.

This project could be anywhere from $2.8 million to $4.5 million, and with only $550,000 in grants, Wells still has more funding to find. Leslie said the city is looking into more grant and loan funding, as well as local bonding.

“If we decide not to do the project, the awarded dollars for Wells just goes back to the funds they came from,” said Leslie. “But there is already public interest in this project, and we can always build bit by bit.”

The project is planned to not only help with the economy of Wells, but transportation as well.

“For every public dollar we invest, Minnesota’s Transportation Economic Development program leverages for an additional three dollars in economic development investment,” said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. “These are great projects, but they don’t come close to meeting our need for a sustainable, comprehensive solution to Minnesota’s transportation challenges. If we want to grow jobs and our economy, we need a statewide transportation system that works everywhere, for Minnesotans and Minnesota businesses.”