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Senate bonding committee hears pitch for Grand Marais Parkside public water access

Feb 09, 2018 06:26AM ● Published by Editor

From Staff Reports from The Cook County News Herald - February 9, 2018

Grand Marais Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux and Cook County Chamber Executive Director Jim Boyd appeared before the Senate Capital Investment Committee to make a pitch for a redeveloped public access facility in Grand Marais harbor. Both DeCoux and Boyd said the presentation went very well.

The committee was making its biannual tour of northeast Minnesota to view proposed bonding projects. Also making presentations at Split Rock were the Minnesota Historical Society and the Gitchi Gami Trail Association.

Work on the proposal for an upgraded $2.3 million Grand Marais public water access began seven years ago, when the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the City of Grand Marais examined the potential for consolidating access and creating one, premier location on the harbor. The Parkside project redevelops an existing boat ramp on the southwest corner of the harbor, within the city’s recreation area. The existing ramp is crumbling and inadequate, said Dave Tersteeg, director of Parks and Recreation for the City of Grand Marais. Plus, he added, the existing breakwater doesn’t adequately protect boaters seeking refuge off the lake during bad weather. In addition, the existing gravel parking lot is inadequate and poses environmental problems for the lake.

Following public planning with numerous back-and-forth consultations between the DNR and the city, a design emerged that brings multiple, impressive benefits: The breakwater would be extended and curved into an L shape that creates a protected basin large enough to handle up to 35-foot boats; a barrier-free walkway would be built on the breakwater, offering harbor access to pedestrians; properly designed, paved parking for boats and trailers would be constructed to capture and treat stormwater; best management practices throughout the design would protect the natural resources, including facilities to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

In addition, Boyd said, this project would release the parking area and existing, designated public water access near Artist Point from a partnership agreement with the DNR. That would allow the city to consider a great many new uses for the city land that borders the Artist Point area.

Although this is actually a DNR project, Boyd, said, it falls to the city and the Chamber to promote it in the Legislature and ensure it gets funded. Which is why this appearance before the Senate committee was so important. The appearance was arranged by Judy Erickson of Conservation Strategies, Inc., the Chamber’s St. Paul representative.

DeCoux and Boyd both found the Senate committee, chaired by Sen. David Senjem, R-Rochester, interested in the project and encouraging. DeCoux, who made the presentation from a Power Point and handout, did an excellent job, Boyd said.

Both the handout and the Power Point (converted to a pdf file) are available on the Chamber website. To find them, go to cookcountychamber.org and click on the green tab at the top, which says, “Grand Marais Parkside Public Water Access Project.”

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