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Boreal Community Media

City adopts Climate Action Plan

Jun 28, 2019 02:00PM ● By Editor

Solar panels in use at the bathhouse at the Grand Marais Municipal Campground - Photo courtesy of Grand Marais Parks Department

By Rhonda Silence of WTIP Radio News - June 27, 2019  

The Grand Marais City Council spent nearly two hours on public comment and council discussion of its proposed Climate Action Plan at the meeting on June 26.

During public comment, six people spoke, primarily expressing concern about the potential cost of implementing the actions in the Climate Action.

Ten people spoke in favor of adopting the Climate Action Plan, many thanking the city for taking the lead on this global issue. 

After public comment, councilors debated the cost versus benefit of an action plan. Councilors Craig Schulte and Kelly Swearingen reiterated the concerns of the citizens who said this could hurt city taxpayers. 

Schulte and Swearingen also pointed out that the city already has a lot on its plate--ordinance review, city/county agreement revisions, plans for the city hall/liquor store building and more. They questioned whether the city should add the Climate Action Plan strategies to the list. 

Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux pointed out that a lot of the tactics in the Climate Action Plan are already happening. 

Councilor Anton Moody said approval of the Climate Action Plan does not mean dropping the other priorities. 

After the lengthy discussion of the pros and cons of the plan, Councilor Tim Kennedy made a motion to adopt the Climate Action Plan. Councilor Anton Moody seconded and the motion carried with Mayor Jay Arrowsmth DeCoux voting aye. Councilors Schulte and Swearingen voted no. 
City gives Highway 61 go ahead with increased costs
A city council agenda item that was met with consternation was the news that the Minnesota Department of Transportation bids for reconstruction of Highway 61 came in higher than anticipated. 

The lowest bid for the reconstruction of Highway 61 from Cutface Creek, through the City of Grand Marais, to just before County Road 14 in Colvill, was $20 million, submitted by KGM Construction. 

MnDOT’s tentative estimate for the project was $13.5 million. The city has been working with MnDOT on projects that will be incorporated in the final reconstruction project, namely some sewer, water and storm water infrastructure improvements. The city’s estimated share of the project was approximately $1 million. 

When the bids were opened, MnDOT told the city its portion is now over $2 million. At last night’s meeting, the council expressed frustration that it was not privy to a breakdown of the costs. It is MnDOT’s policy to withhold information on bids until the packet had been accepted. 

The city expressed frustration at not knowing where the project overruns are, but agreed to approve the increased cost as it is vital that the city get its sewer, water and stormwater management work completed. It would likely cost even more if the city attempted such projects on their own at a later date. 

City Administrator Mike Roth said the increased cost could be covered by the city’s utility service funds, primarily the electric department. 

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