St. Paul asks Legislature to help pay for new North End rec center

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St. Paul is aggressively pursuing every financing option available to help fund and build a new $19 million community and recreation center in one of the city’s most diverse neighborhoods.

The proposed 25,000-square-foot facility would be built on Rice Street in the city’s North End neighborhood, right next to the Rice Street Library between Cook and Lawson Avenues.

Eamy Alvarado, who lives in the North End, told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS her family and friends are “very excited” to hear a new, state-of-the-art community center could soon be built.

“Yes, we are very happy to hear this because the kids in this neighborhood need a place like this to go to,” Alvarado said. “The old Rice Recreation Center is too small and doesn’t have a lot to offer, so this could be something this neighborhood has waited for and needed for a long time.”

St. Paul’s City Council and Mayor Melvin Carter approved $3 million for the project but would like state lawmakers to bond for the remaining $16 million — something Chikamso Chijioke with the St. Paul Youth Commission applauds.

"There will be shared spaces that will include multipurpose community rooms, teaching kitchens, youth-teen rooms, family events, fitness rooms and an outdoor courtyard,” Chijioke said. “I mean, there are simply so many ways that this facility can and will be used.”

If the Legislature approves the bonding request, St. Paul has plans to break ground on the new rec center in late 2021 or early 2022.