Local Support Heard at Senate Hearing for Fountain Lake Restoration Project
St. Paul, MN – The Senate Environment, Economic Development and Agriculture Division heard loud and clear that city, business and community leaders support efforts to restore Fountain Lake. Funding for the Fountain Lake Restoration project is in HF271/SF200; providing $7.5 million for the clean up and removal of sediment from Fountain Lake.
“State funding for this project will benefit the state through increased tourism spending, strengthening the economy of southern Minnesota and helping to attract businesses to the city of Albert Lea,” Sen. Dan Sparks told Division members.
The theme that lake restoration equaled economic development echoed in the letters of support from city, business and community leaders submitted to the Division. “We believe strongly that the quality of waters in and around Albert Lea directly impact our community from a quality of life standpoint,” wrote Mark Ciota, CEO of the Mayo Health System in Albert Lea.
Bill Howe, President of the Fountain Lake Sportsmen’s Club wrote, “Through this restoration project, we will be able to promote additional tourism and thus improve our local economy.”
The Albert Lea – Freeborn Chamber of Commerce added their voice, “the quality of waters in and around Albert Lea are vital to our community. We actively urge the Shell Rock River Watershed request be funded in order for them to continue their necessary work.”
Community leaders Susie Petersen, Executive Director of the Convention and Visitor Bureau, Randy Kehr, Executive Director of the Albert Lea – Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, and Laura Lunde, Chair of the Lakes Foundation of Albert Lea traveled with watershed district staff to participate in the Senate hearing and to meet with Sen. Sparks and Rep. Shannon Savich.
“Today’s hearing is a critical step in securing state funds for this project,” Sparks said. “Community support is an important piece.”
“We expect to have a similar hearing in the House Environment, Natural Resources and Agriculture Committee in the near future,” Rep. Savick told the group.