An Omnibus environment and natural resources finance bill that included an amendment to change the name of St. Croix State Park near Hinckley, MN to Walter F. Mondale State Park was passed by the Ways and Means Committee.
The bill, HF2209, was authored by State Representative Rick Hansen to fund various environmental programs in Minnesota.
The amendment, which has received criticism from Pine County residents and local leaders, was added to HF2209 after another bill, HF1963, to rename Interstate State Park near Taylors Falls, MN stalled out in committee last month. After testimony from Mike Buchite, the Mayor of Taylors Falls, and another community member against the idea of naming a state park after a person, the bill's chief author Representative Ryan Winkler began to look at other options.
A lack of input from residents has raised a number of eyebrows in Pine County. The caused Rep. Nathan Nelson voiced his concern over social media.
"Metro Democrats are trying to rename the St. Croix State Park with no public input from our district," Nelson continued saying, "I find this lack of input from our community to be appalling. We deserve a voice in this process and I will fight to make sure your concerns are heard."
Timothy Williams Executive Director for the Hinckley Convention and Visitors Bureau took issue with the price tag that would come with a name change.
In a letter to legislators, Williams said, "Economically, the cost to replace the signage, markers, maps and marketing materials could cost the taxpayers of Minnesota as much as $250,00.00, by some estimates. Certainly, there are more pressing infrastructural needs that warrant tax dollar allocation."
The amendment allocated $50,000 for the first year in order to change signs and pay for other items related to the name change.
HF2209 was passed by the Ways and Means Committee 14 to 8. It will now move onto the general register to be argued on by legislators on the house floor.