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Video: Vote on Spirit Mountain debt forgiveness delayed

May 11, 2021 06:08AM ● By Editor

Watch the WDIO-TV Report here

Photo: WDIO-TV

From WDIO-TV - May 10, 2021

Duluth city councilors will wait two more weeks before voting on a forgiveness plan for up to $900,000 of debt Spirit Mountain owes to the city. 

Mayor Emily Larson proposed the forgiveness after a Spirit Mountain Task Force report. 

Councilor Arik Forsman, who served on that task force, said that the line of credit has been maxed out for years. 

"Even if we don't ultimately choose the reinvestment plan that Mayor Larson put forward, it is clear based on what the SE Group has told us that we must choose reinvestment or we are by proxy choosing inevitable death for Spirit Mountain," Forsman said during Monday night's council meeting. 

However, he ultimately supported the two-week delay because other councilors felt they had not gotten enough details to make an informed decision.

"I do not think it is appropriate or responsible to ask the City Council to embark upon a venture of this sort, even if we're only looking at the first step in that journey, on the same night that we first began to receive the details we need to evaluate the overall strategy," Councilor Joel Sipress said. 

Sipress' motion to table the debt forgiveness resolution passed unanimously. It will be taken up again at the May 24 meeting. 

However, councilors did approve an agreement with TKDA, an engineering firm, for some predesign work on Spirit Mountain's upper chalet and campground. Chief Administrative Officer Noah Schuchman told councilors that vote could not be delayed because Spirit will likely be part of a future state bonding request. 

The predesign work will cost no more than $102,500, and Spirit Mountain will foot the bill. 

"This work by TKDA has to happen, bonding or not," Schuchman said. "It is being paid for by Spirit Mountain. That's because if we're going to retain Spirit in any form, we need to renovate the most deteriorating major asset: the upper chalet. This contract is necessary to define that work and let us know what any renovation must address, no matter how it is funded." 

That vote passed 7-2, with councilors Derek Medved and Joel Sipress opposed. 

To watch the original report and see related reporting, follow this link to the WDIO_TV website.

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