It was bound to happen: new president, new house renovations, new controversy.
KSTP is reporting on the half million dollars or so being spent on renovations and an expansion of Eastcliffe, the mansion of the University of Minnesota president.
(That money reportedly covers repairs to the pool and summer house as well as the addition of a second kitchen.)
My MPR colleague Bob Collins communicated with U spokesman Dan Wolter on the subject, and has this take on his blog, NewsCut.
Apparently, the project has grown since it became news last fall, and will use about $215,000 in public money. Despite the unfortunate timing this time around, higher-ed officials usually say that’s a legit expenditure, considering that university presidents bring in money by entertaining big donors there. And in the U’s case, university departments hold events at the house more than 165 times a year..
(Plenty of space, by the way: 10,000 square feet and 20 rooms, according to the U’s Web site.)
And the kitchen?
The U says the second kitchen is needed to give the President and his family privacy while parties are catered out of the main kitchen.
Oddly, though, you’d think that if that need truly were so great, it would have gotten taken care of sooner than, say, 50 years after its donation?
(Maybe there’s an answer. Are university events at the house a recent thing?)