Sleepy Eye one of five Minnesota cities to be awarded a DEED grant.

When the railroad closed the crossing at 2nd Avenue NW about 10 years ago, they told the City of Sleepy Eye they would allow another crossing on the east at some time in the future. The future is here — the railroad finally committed to allowing a crossing at 12th Avenue NE — the street between McCabe’s and the Event Center. For the past couple years, the city council has been discussing options and plans for completing 12th Avenue to St. Mary’s Street.

The top issue in the council’s decision was securing grant funds to assist with the project. The applications were successful and Sleepy Eye was granted $750,000 through the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s LRIP (Local Road Improvement Program) fund. In addition, Sleepy Eye was awarded a grant of $985,587 through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) from its Greater Minnesota Business Development Public Infrastructure grant program (BDPI).

While the city was aware of the successful BDPI grant application for several months, the final documents and assurances were recently completed and the official letter of award from DEED was received in late June.

DEED said the BDPI funds are to assist with the construction of streets, water, sanitary sewer, storm sewer and the railroad crossing for a new industrial park.

Mayor Wayne Pelzel has also said on many occasions that the new 12th Avenue NE crossing will be of service to residents in the northeast section of town, providing another route to Main Street.

City Manager Bob Elston said the entire project is estimated to cost nearly $3.5 million. With the two grants, the city’s share of the project is $1,760,214.

The project will create 15 commercial/industrial lots along 12th Avenue and eight residential lots on the south side of St. Mary’s Street. In addition, the city council hopes to build Elm Street to meet 12th Avenue, if bids are acceptable, creating additional residential lots — see Elston’s column on page 2 for more information on that.

Elston said construction will start in spring of 2020; the railroad is expected to begin their work that fall; and completion of the entire project will occur in 2021.

DEED awarded BDPI grants, totaling $5.3 million, for projects in Hutchinson, Kenyon, Paynesville, Perham and Sleepy Eye.

“Investments in public infrastructure are critical to the economic success of Greater Minnesota communities,” said Governor Tim Walz. “These grants will help spur that economic development and create quality jobs in Hutchinson, Kenyon, Paynesville, Perham, and Sleepy Eye.”