February 28, 2023
Federal Grant Invests $2M in ReConnect Rondo Restorative Development Project
Funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s “Reconnecting Communities” pilot will explore feasibility of a land bridge
FEBRUARY 28, 2023 — Today, Mayor Carter announced receipt of the Reconnecting Communities Grant, a monumental step toward rebuilding Saint Paul’s historic Rondo neighborhood. The federal grant, to which the City of Saint Paul and ReConnect Rondo were co-applicants, awarded $2 million toward funding ReConnect Rondo’s vision for a restorative land bridge.
The Rondo neighborhood is one community of hundreds across the country that were uprooted to construct the federal highway system. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $1 billion to aid impacted neighborhoods.
"I’m grateful for Senator Klobuchar, Senator Smith, and Congresswoman McCollum’s work to secure funding for an incredible project,” said Mayor Carter. “Rebuilding the Rondo community benefits all of us, and a land bridge brings exciting possibilities to the table.”
“ReConnect Rondo’s neighborhood-led vision is important,” said U.S. Rep McCollum, “and will create opportunities for community empowerment and economic growth. Most importantly, it allows for reconciliation and healing for a community that was cruelly ripped apart, and I am honored to have helped facilitate bringing these funds to the Fourth District.”
"I am proud to say that the City Council supported ReConnect Rondo's application by a unanimous Resolution,” said Councilmember Russel Balenger. “As the Councilmember for Ward 1 and a lifelong Rondo community member, it is important to me that we ensure better access to mobility options and support a healthier future for the community."
“The timing was fortuitous,” said ReConnect Rondo Executive Director Keith Baker, “but it is also incredibly validating to see the federal government take responsibility for the lasting harm rendered on communities all these years later with hard dollars that can materially help us today in our effort to springboard into a more healthy and planful future.”
The $2 million grant is matched by $500,000 previously committed to by the City of Saint Paul and the state legislature in 2021. The total $2.5 million will be used for an environmental impact analysis, neighborhood traffic analysis and modeling, and community engagement around the effects of creating new land over Interstate 94. The dollars will also aid in the coordination of plans between the land bridge and MnDOT’s “ReThinking I-94” initiative, especially those involving environmental impact and traffic.
ABOUT RECONNECT RONDO
Leading the land bridge project is ReConnect Rondo, the first restorative development effort in the nation led by its community members. In addition to the land bridge, ReConnect Rondo aims to create an African American cultural enterprise district to catalyze economic growth throughout Rondo and adjacent neighborhoods.
Alongside work to attract federal dollars, business investments, and other funding sources, ReConnect Rondo establishes innovative community safeguards and sustainability measures, like anti-displacement provisions, and develops community investment tools and policies to assure prosperity returns to Rondo elders, descendants, and current residents.