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Expo event being moved from BSC to East Ridge

Plans to show off the remodeled Bielenberg Sports Center at this year’s Woodbury Community Expo were officially scrapped this week due to delays with the construction project.

The fifth-annual event – still set for May 3 – has been moved to neighboring East Ridge High School, said Barbara Tuccitto Warren, president of the Woodbury Area Chamber of Commerce, the organization that organizes the event.

She said the school, which will open up its gym to serve the principal portion of the event, serves as “a perfect” one-year solution.

“We couldn’t ask for anything better,” Tuccitto Warren said.

City officials initially hoped to have the upgraded Bielenberg Sport Center (BSC) project completed by early March, said Woodbury Parks and Recreation Director Bob Klatt.

The project is now looking at a potential completion date in May or June, he said.

Klatt said inclement weather has delayed the construction timeline and is the primary culprit for the delay.

“We understand the situation that exists with Bielenberg because weather is uncontrollable and we certainly understand,” Tuccitto Warren said. “We are fortunate that we have a wonderful school like East Ridge that can hold the Expo.”

The layout at East Ridge will allow for vendors to again gather under one roof, she said, adding that parking won’t suffer; the school lot – normally used as overflow when the event is at BSC – will now be the primary lot, with BSC’s lot now becoming the overflow parking location.

Tuccitto Warren said that while Expo visitors will see a new venue this year, the event will be structured in the same way it has the previous four years.

“The exhibitors will be an array of organizations and businesses,” she said, adding that entertainment will again be part of the Expo, along with “a few surprises along the way.”

This year’s sponsor of the event will be St. Mary’s University.

Project delays

Klatt said delays began with a 2013 that saw wintry conditions last until early May. Heavy rainfall sidetracked the project over the summer, Klatt said, and the past month’s cold has “really hampered” the project.

Other delays have involved BSC’s new restaurant, which required utility adjustments to accommodate its kitchen. The 7,500 square-foot addition to the facility that will house the Minnesota United Football Club also impacted the timeline, he said.

But, Klatt said, “it’s been weather more so than anything.”

He said the project remains on track for its July 4 grand opening event.

Progress is especially slow in the extreme cold, Klatt said, noting that workers are still in the process of making the structure fully enclosed. Glass was being installed this week, he noted.

Klatt said the $21.8million project is not running into cost overruns due to the delay.

He said original talks with the Chamber included the possibility of holding off on the Expo this year due to unknowns surrounding the BSC project. After it was determined the Expo would be held this year, attempts were made to meet the time line, but “that just wasn’t the case for this year,” Klatt said.

Tuccitto Warren and Klatt both said the goal is to have the Expo return to BSC for 2015.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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