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City council sets preliminary levy

Oct 06, 2017 06:46AM ● Published by Editor

From Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - October 5, 2017

Faced with a steep hike in health insurance Grand Marais city councilors approved a preliminary levy of 8.19 percent at their mid September meeting.

City Administrator Mike Roth said health insurance had gone up 29 percent from last year. He also said the preliminary levy included adjusted salaries and a significant increase in debt payments for the $4.6 million public works facility that is now nearing completion.

Staff will continue to look for ways to reduce the levy before December when council sets the final levy, said Roth. If no cuts are made, the 2017 preliminary levy payable in 2018 will be $980,736.76. 

Historical Society Maritime Museum

Carrie McHugh, museum director for the Cook County Historical Society and Barb Backlund, CCHS president, came before the city council on September 27 to discuss the possibility of the Society building a maritime museum on the harbor.

McHugh said the Society was interested in moving forward with developing a conceptual plan for a maritime museum. An architect was lined up to lead the group in a visioning process, but the cost was $15,000, and the CCHS was hoping the city would pick up half of that.

Inspiration for building a new museum, said McHugh, comes from the Society’s recent acquisition of the Hammer Collection. The Hovland family had a rich tradition of fishing and had acquired four decades of historic artifacts and a number of wooden boats used in the commercial fishing industry, which were recently donated to the Society. 

Charter fishing, commercial fishing, and inland lake fishing and items for the family’s home life were all part of this collection, said McHugh.

Two possible locations to build the museum have been identified: one in Boulder Park across from Sidney’s restaurant, and one at the Coast Guard station.

The Coast Guard station is on the National Register of Historic places. McHugh noted that it was an important piece of the North Shore’s maritime history and in light of the Coast Guard talking about giving up the location, it might make a great spot to put the new museum.

The visioning process will include plans to locate the museum at the Coast Guard station and possibly plans for new construction just north of the station, said McHugh.

Potentially standing in the way could be a disagreement about who owns the land the Coast Guard station is on. McHugh said a corporation gave the land to the Coast Guard in the 1920s with the caveat that if the Coast Guard left, the land would revert back to the corporation. However, said McHugh, the corporation no longer exists, so she didn’t know how that would play into any transactions involving the property.

Mayor Jay Arrowsmith- DeCoux cautioned that any discussion about the Coast Guard property and Artist Point should be done in public meetings with other stakeholders or groups who might have plans for that property when the Coast Guard decides to leave. 

McHugh replied that the Society was in the early stages of the planning process and would appreciate partnering with the city and other groups to discuss best uses for the Coast Guard property.

After some discussion among council members and a reminder from City Administrator Roth that the discussion was getting away from the topic of the maritime museum, council agreed to give $7,500, with the Cook County Historical Society paying the other half, to hire the architect. 


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