City called on the carpet on grant

TRACY Community Center Workforce Group member Jeanine Vandendriessche addressed the Tracy City Council on Monday, sharing her frustration over the lack of communication between the City and the group about a missed grant opportunity. Photo / Per Peterson

Tracy residents say City missed opportunity to capitalize on grant they say would’ve paid for a new community center

By Per Peterson

A number of residents at Monday’s Tracy City Council meeting expressed frustration over a perceived missed opportunity they contend could’ve funded a new community center.

At issue was the City’s decision not to pursue money from a Minnesota Employment and Economic Development Targeted Community Capital Project Grant Program.

To qualify for the grant, a City must “increase access” to one or more of the following:

• Economic Development, including but not limited to programs to relieve economic disparities or foster entrepreneurship or small business development.

• Education, including but not limited to programs focused on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education, or culturally specific curriculum.

• Workforce development, including but not limited to apprenticeships, internships, employment preparation, job placement assistance, and job skills training and counseling and legal assistance to marginalized communities.

“The total funds from this when it came out was $18 million; we would have qualified for this grant, being in a socio-economic distressed area and being rural,” Shirley Anderson said during the public comment period of Monday’s meeting. “Also, we do not have a community center in our town. There are many towns around in our area, some with a lot less population than we have, and most of them all have either a community center or a senior center. We would’ve qualified, and we could’ve got this building built for free.”

Tracy City Administrator Erik Hansen said he sent a memo to the council “a week or so ago” about the process that was gone through in terms of evaluating the grant and said the City has a limited amount of resources to apply for grants. He added that he does appreciate the disappointment shared by the community, saying the City would love to write a grant but is wary of raising false hopes. He added that the council and Community Center Workforce Group needs to come to some consensus on what they want in a new center and develop parameters on it.

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.