What's a city sales tax to do?
Rochester sales tax funding requests are starting to pile up.
Requests for the proposed $120 million tax extension will soon pass the $250 million mark — and the hearing process is just getting started.
On Wednesday, a citizen Sales Tax Advisory Committee appointed to rank the requests met for the third time. Members heard an $8 million request to finish the Cascade Lake development, $2.6 million to develop athletic fields near the McQuillan Softball Complex, $10 million for downtown street aesthetics and $13 million for downtown parking ramps.
That makes $96.8 million in seven projects presented so far.
The city's Public Works Department is expected to ask for $166 million in projects. And before long will come the financial pleas from groups outside city government.
Both legislative and voter approval are required to extend the city's half-percent sales tax, which first was approved in 1983.
A quick rundown of this week's proposals:
• Cascade Lake.The city Park and Recreation Department wants $8 million to finish a planned 257-acre park complex west of U.S. 52, between U.S. 14 and Country Club Road.
The park's centerpiece would be a 100-acre spring-fed lake being made from quarry operations, but the sales tax contribution would finish off a park area and trails on the southeast side of the park property. The park would include a beach, bathhouse, amphitheater, picnic area, playground and parking lot.
Cascade Lake is "this generation's Silver Lake project," said Gary Neumann, assistant city administrator.
• Kepp property.Park and Recreation wants $2.6 million to develop athletic fields on an 80-acre site generally known as the "Kepp property," because it was bought some 20 years ago from a farm family of that name.
"We've kind of held back from calling it anything in particular," said Dennis Stotz, assistant director of the department. "You could do lacrosse, soccer, rugby — any of those."
The development would include four competition athletic fields for those sports, plus a full-sized baseball field with 90-foot basepaths. It would also have a parking lot, concession stand, restrooms and playground.
The property lies just south of the McQuillan Softball Complex and National Guard Armory. It will be separated from those properties by an extension of 20th Street Southeast between 11th Avenue and Marion Road.
• Downtown aesthetics.The Public Works Department asked for $10 million to put "the human element into public works improvements" downtown, according to department Director Richard Freese.
Money could be used for things such as benches, landscaping, street medians, lighting or "pocket parks" — small parks that can be built on a single lot or an irregularly shaped piece of land.
• Downtown parking.Potentially two parking ramps could be built if the $13 million request were fully funded.
Freese said the 48-year-old Second Street ramp is not only getting up in age, but lies on a site that is described in the Downtown Master Plan as a "very prime block for redevelopment"
The ramp could be replaced with a mixed-use project combining parking, commercial and residential uses.
A new parking ramp could be built west of the Post-Bulletin building, on what is now a city-owned parking lot. The location was chosen in a city study as the best spot for a new ramp.