The Minnesota bonding bill is mired in the Legislature's routine political posturing and politicking. The bill, which Republicans say is too big and Democrats say is not big enough, is probably about right for the state's economic condition, which has improved greatly.
Among its provisions is funding for restoration and enhancements at Fort Snelling, one of the most important historic sites in the nation. The original $34 million proposal will be enough when added to private donations for a proposed $46 million multiyear project.
The Minnesota Historical Society's vision for vintage buildings and other site features is convincing. In addition to renovation and restoration to the original design of several buildings, the sites inadequate visitor amenities will be improved and expanded. The attraction of the place is not only its rich history, but also its location overlooking the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers. Society officials want to make the entire experience more visitor friendly.
But it is the historical significance of the place that is most significant. First as a frontier outpost, then as a training center from the Civil War through World War II, the fort has touched the lives of tens of thousands of Americans. Prior to settlement by Europeans, the site dates back 10,000 years as a gathering place for native people, archeologists note.
Fort Snelling is Minnesota's first National Historic Landmark. Its importance to the state and nation is not in question. What is uncertain is the Legislature's ability to quit the partisan sniping and get serious about the bonding bill. There's a lot in the legislation that needs doing, and the work at Fort Snelling is a gem. It needs work to restore it to the condition and status mandated by its history and location. It's needed the work for a long time. The Historical Society's initiative has been carefully considered and designed. It's doable. The Legislature should agree on a bonding bill that includes full state funding for the project.