Grand Marais Park Board continues planning for Community Connection

The snow may be piled up all over Grand Marais, but that didn’t stop the Grand Marais Park Board from discussing plans for the Community Connections walkway into the Grand Marais Recreation Area at its February 5 meeting.
North House Folk School Executive Director Greg Wright was on hand to discuss plans that timber frame designer and instructor Peter Henrikson had drawn up for a pedestrian bridge on the Community Connections walkway.  The Community Connections project will lead pedestrians from the highway down into the northeast section of the park next to North House.  Wright had designs for a covered bridge and an uncovered bridge. 
Wright said North House never uses treated lumber and recommended that they use large tamarack beams from International Falls if the bridge were uncovered because tamarack is more resistant to rotting from moisture.  A covered bridge would lengthen the life of the bridge because it would provide more protection from moisture.
“The covered is more expensive, but the covered is more beautiful,” said Bill Lenz. 
The board talked about how a covered timber frame bridge would look and how it would affect views of the lake.  “I don’t see it as an obstruction as much as an invitation,” said Sally Berg. 
Park Manager Dave Tersteeg, who formerly worked in the landscaping field, said he sees the bridge as a piece of landscape furniture.  Board Chair Walt Mianowski said it would blend in well with the architecture of the North House.  Berg said it would enhance the area like an architectural feature in a Chinese garden.
If North House built a covered bridge, it would be done with shop students from Cook County High School and William Kelley High School in Silver Bay.  The cost would be about $10,000 and would fund the continuance of the program; each year the timber framing class sells what it makes in order to pay for the next year’s class. 
Another option would be for the bridge to be constructed by someone else using treated lumber.  The board had planned to spend about $70,000 on the Community Connections project.  The board decided not to make any decision on the bridge until Board Members Robin DuChien and Paul Anderson could be there.
The board discussed a landscaping design drawn up by Diane Booth of the Minnesota Extension Service.  Some of the park board members thought they might not need all the trees and shrubs she suggested if they wanted to develop the site over time.  “Everything she chose was colorful, hardy, industrial, native,” said Tersteeg.  It would look like a “mini arboretum,” he said.  The design included white spruce, autumn blaze maple, and mountain ash trees as well as numerous colorful shrubs and would cost $4,500-5,000.  Buck’s Hardware offered the plants at good prices.
When it is done, they could call it a “pocket park,” Tersteeg said.  Maintenance will be necessary.  In the area next to the highway, the Minnesota Department of Transportation will require a professionally engineered design, which will cost money, Tersteeg said.  “We’re trying to keep it simple and small.”
A grant application has been submitted for a National Fish and Wildlife Foundation Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program grant to help with the cost of the Community Connections project.  A description of the grant states, “Projects seek to address water quality issues in priority watersheds, such as erosion due to unstable stream banks, pollution from storm water runoff, and degraded shorelines caused by development.”  The design includes management of storm water runoff from the hillside above the park. The grant requires partnership and education to help sustain conservation goals.  Co-applicants with the city are the Cook County Soil & Water Conservation District, the Grand Marais Garden Club, the Minnesota Extension Service, Cook County Schools, and the Grand Marais Active Living Steering Committee.