Sold! Ramsey County buys old Army ammunition site in Arden Hills - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

Sold! Ramsey County buys old Army ammunition site in Arden Hills

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ARDEN HILLS, Minn. (KMSP) -

What would you say to an offer of 427 acres -- some of it highly polluted -- in the metro at a price of $28 million? If you're Ramsey County officials, the response is: "Sold!"

For the mayor of Arden Hills, the 5-2 vote by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners to purchase the Twin Cities Army Ammunition Plant was a long time coming.

"It was a relief," Mayor Dave Grant told FOX 9 News. "I've been on the Council for 12 years, so I've worked on this for 12 years. So, to finally see it happen is really something amazing."

The land was once considered for the Vikings stadium, but county leaders say it's still a good investment even if it isn't decked out in purple.

On the surface, it certainly seems expensive, but Ramsey County Commissioner Tony Bennett says the county will get their investment back and more once the land is sold, developed and property taxes start coming in.

To break down the cost, $28 million will go to the sale, with $22 million of that going toward cleaning up 16 highly polluted Superfund spots on the property. Of the 427 acres, 30 need to be cleaned.

Yet some, like Ramsey County Commissioner Victoria Reinhardt say that the state should be the one forking over the cash, not the county.

"This is, to me, a state issue. It's a federal issue, county, city -- everyone together," she said. "This is putting all of it on Ramsey County taxpayers and I don't think that's appropriate."

Reinhardt voted against the deal, citing concerns that there may not be buyers once the cleanup is complete.

That cleanup will include removing buildings and contaminated soil, and that could begin as soon as next spring. Officials expect to have something built on the site by the summer of 2015.

As for what will be built there, Grant said he expects housing, commercial and retail business will all eventually be located somewhere on the site.

The Arden Hills Army Ammunition Plant was one of two in the country that once produced small ammunition. In its hay day, 26,000 people worked there around the clock.

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