The recently-concluded annual session of the Minnesota Legislature will be known as having passed a plethora of new, far-reaching legislation.
This included a $1.87 billion bonding bill, the largest in history.
It is important to keep the “largest in history” in perspective. There was no bonding bill passed in the previous session, so as House Speaker Melissa Hortman said, “This is three years wrapped into one.”
This year’s version was targeted toward the University of Minnesota and other public schools, first responders, veteran homes, transportation, economic development, and water treatment facilities, among other areas.
What did Eden Prairie realize in the $1.87 billion? Only $1 million, and that was shared with three other entities.
The $1 million is for an upgrade to the South Metro Public Safety Training Facility.
It was opened in 2004 and is jointly owned by the cities of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, Edina, and the Metropolitan Airports Commission. It is located in Edina just south of Braemar Ice Arena.
“Its prime purpose is to train and recertify police and firefighters. There is limited general public use, mainly for the firearms gun range,” said Matt Sackett, Eden Prairie’s police chief. “The facility also offers firearms safety courses to the public.”
“The current bonding will be to construct a separate building for police training only,” said Bob Slater, the executive director of the facility.
Already in existence are the aforementioned firing range, a fire tower, an open area for police K-9 training, general classrooms, and areas for both police and fire simulations. In total, the present facility is 28,000 square feet and sits on a 3.5-acre site.
The new facility will be for patrol officers and SWAT personnel.
It will be designed with movable walls so that training sessions can be customized for a specific purpose.
Slater said the plan is for construction to start in the spring of 2024, and it is projected that it will take six to eight months to complete construction.
“Hopefully, it is ready to be used in late ’24 or early 2025,” he added.
The four owners share in the operational costs based on the number of personnel they employ. Bloomington, as the fourth largest city in the state, has more first responders than the other three partners.
The facility has nine employees.
Activities at the facility vary from day to day. Each city or the MAC determines when they want to use it and for what purpose. Police officers and firefighters are required to go through continuing education and get recertified regularly. The Edina Police Department might be holding classes on one day, while firefighters from Bloomington may conduct simulated firefights on another day.
“We are almost always busy,” said Slater.
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