Grand Marais Parks and Rec

Changing times at Grand Marais Municipal Campground

The Grand Marais Park Board held a special meeting on Tuesday, May 19 to discuss how to move ahead on opening the municipal campground after Minnesota Governor Tim Walz’s “Stay Home Minnesota” directive expired on May 18 and “Stay Safe Minnesota” guidelines were set to begin. The park board struggled with the best way to accommodate guests while following CDC guidelines for the prevention of the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under the “Stay Home Minnesota” order, monthly/seasonal campers were allowed to return to the Grand Marais municipal campground, as that order allowed seasonal homeowners/long-term camper rentals to reside there. On May 7, the Grand Marais Rec Park opened the park for returning seasonal renters and about six people arrived in Grand Marais.

All of them said Grand Marais Parks and Recreation Manager Dave Tersteeg said, appeared to comply with the request to isolate for 14 days after arrival.

As the park board met on May 19, they heard that under the state guidelines that went into effect on May 18, “dispersed and remote camping sites for single household use” is allowed. However, not in a developed campground like the Grand Marais Municipal Campground.

Grand Marais Parks and Recreation Manager Dave Tersteeg said the park department had begun canceling reservations for the rest of the month of May. Tersteeg said a decision needed to be made on how to proceed in June. If the governor announces that overnight camping will once again be allowed, how did the park board wish to handle that? Should the campground open more sites for seasonal/monthly rentals?

Tersteeg said the major obstacle to opening for overnight camping is the concern that the campground bathhouses might not allow for the physical distance recommendations from the CDC.

The impact on the Grand Marais Parks Department budget was also discussed at length. Offering sites to seasonal guests only greatly reduce the parks department budget. As an example, Tersteeg said if the campground booked all of its 65 full hook-up sites as monthly, the campground would garner approximately $200,000 in revenue, instead of the estimated $867,000 that would be collected if all overnight sites were open for overnight campers.

It took a great deal of discussion and three motions to reach consensus on how to proceed. A motion was finally passed to open the municipal campground for overnight camping on June 15, contingent on orders from the state. Although the governor’s order would allow the campground to open more monthly rental sites on June 1, the park board went with the later date, to ensure the park was ready.

Tersteeg also noted that things could change on June 1. The next park board meeting is Tuesday, June 2.
WTIP’s Rhonda Silence checked in with Parks Manager Dave Tersteeg after that park board meeting to talk about changes at the campground–and the golf course. Here’s their conversation.

This is a developing story, as announcements from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources yesterday, May 20, include a different set of guidelines for overnight camping. Check back for more information as it becomes available.