Capitol renovation plans


House and Senate at odds on plan.

It could be back to the drawing board for the most recent State Capitol renovation plan that calls for $260 million to help restore and enhance the building that opened in 1905. A Capitol Restoration Working Group is charged with deciding where to go from here.

The latest draft plan, although only 55 percent complete at a cost of nearly $1.2 million, appears to have hit the skids this year. Commissioned in 2005, the plan is seen as problematic not only because of its hefty price tag, but also the process used to develop the plan — a process that put the Senate and the House at odds.

So the Legislature appropriated $250,000 in 2007 for a working group to consider whether the plan should be continued or if other strategies should be looked at for the needed upgrades to the building and other Capitol Complex planning issues.

With a leaking roof, security concerns, rising energy costs and infrastructure unable to handle new technology demands, some say there is little time to waste. But the question is how much. And, with the need for more parking and office space throughout the complex, should the plans just focus on the Capitol?

During its first meeting, the 20-member group, made up of legislators, administration officials and members of the public, was candid on what they see as wrong with the current schematic, and the issues that need to be addressed if there is to be ultimate consensus on a plan.

“It’s the big price tag,” said Rep. Alice Hausman (DFL-St. Paul), who co-chairs the group with Sen. Keith Langseth (DFL-Glyndon). “You have to ask if there are other priorities that are equally as competing before we rush to spend [this amount of money].”

A Sept. 30 deadline looms for the group’s recommendations to the Legislature on how to proceed.

No future meeting date was set.