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Grand Marais Park board looks at possible park upgrades

Feb 09, 2018 07:02AM ● Published by Editor

By Brian Larsen of The Cook County News Herald - February 9, 2018

Planning for upcoming prospective 2018 capital improvement projects was the hot topic of the February 6 Grand Marais Park Board meeting.

Dave Tersteeg, park manager, listed seven projects for the board to consider for this next upcoming season.

Number one on Tersteeg’s list was spending $20,000 to acquire supplemental planning and design work so the park’s master plan could be submitted to the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission for the Sawtooth Bluff project.

The county and the city have a combined 640 acres that they are looking at developing for a variety of things that could include building trails for mountain biking, hiking, installing a disc golf area, putting in a dog park, and building a trail hub with approximately 30 camping spots. Those are just some of the amenities the steering committee for the Sawtooth Bluff project is considering. 

Tersteeg said the steering committee has been working on “guiding principles to ensure the development of the property is thoughtful and respects the environmental and financial concerns raised during public input.”

People living on the Ski Hill Road have expressed a “not in my back yard,” attitude, said Tersteeg, and the steering committee has been taking their concerns under advisement.

As far as the campsites, Tersteeg has been asked if the Rec Park staff could take on managing those sites. “What do you think?” he asked the board. “It might allow us to hire another full-time employee and we do have the expertise to run the campsite. It’s really up to you. Think about it. We can talk about this at a later meeting.”

Areas of emphasis in the Recreation Park master plan could also include the Parkside public access project and marina, the main office and check-in area, and the eastern boundary of the park where the current bike trail is located, noted Tersteeg.

Next Tersteeg suggested donating $5,000 to the Cook County Chamber of Commerce to use for legislative lobbying efforts to secure funding for the Parkside public access project. 

The work to improve the west end (near the dog pound) Lake Superior boat access is expected to cost about $2.5 million, and Tersteeg explained the Minnesota DNR came to the city about seven years ago touting an upgrade for this part of the park. However, he said, more and more it’s looking like the state of Minnesota will want the city to have a financial “match” with any state money allocated, and the city, said Tersteeg, believes its match was moving the public works garage ($4 million plus) up on the hill above town on Highway 61.

Also on Tersteeg’s list was $5,000 that is needed to hire an architect to design a new bathhouse to replace the number 3 facility; $30,000 allocated to purchase a mid-sized tractor with attachment (mower, bucket, backhoe, ball field drag and snow removal); $15,000 to pay for power upgrades to sites 51, 53 and 55-58, all high-value full hook-up sites; $6,500 to pay for the Astra software that has allowed the park to book call-in reservations that feature real-time, map-based online booking more efficiently; and $10,000 to fix a leaky park sewer infrastructure which allows rainwater to mix with gray water that is treated at the Grand Marais sewage plant. This fix, which would probably be done in the fall, said Tersteeg, could stop as much as 17 percent of the city’s excess groundwater flowing into the system. All told if the park board decides to do all of the projects it would total $91,500.

“That is well within our capital improvement budget,” said Tersteeg, noting there was between $130,000 to $150,000 in that budget for park upgrades. 

January revenue

Even though no one is currently staying in the park, the revenue for January was up 12 percent over last January based on the number of summer reservations that have already come in.

While all of the camper spots are taken for the busiest weekends, tent sites are available, and summer marketing will focus on family tent campers, especially, since the North Shore state parks are generally full. 

Summer events

The board unanimously approved two special event applications. One was for the July 20-22 Water Festival weekend that will be held in Harbor Park and the second was for the annual WTIP Radio Waves Music Festival that will be held September 7-9 in the park’s sliding hill area. 


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