City council approves kiosk bid from local artist and discusses a food truck ordinance

City council approves kiosk bid from local artist and discusses a food truck ordinance

The Grand Marais City Council met  Wednesday, May 11, and went through an agenda with a request for use of public space by the owner of The Bad Seed food truck and an update from the Creative Economy Collaborative on kiosk bids. 

During the open forum, city responsibility for street sweeping and emails received from the public were discussed. In addition, Richard Olson made a comment during the open forum regarding the current use of snowmobiles on the non-motorized Gitchi-Gami trail. He said the funds allocated to build the trail were intended for non-motorized use. However, Olson said the north side of Highway 61 is currently being used by snowmobilers and that pedestrians need to use the north side of the highway, starting from Johnson’s Grocery store and heading east. 

Following Olson’s comment, Mayor Jay Decoux said, “I do believe that this coming fall, there probably will be some discussion about that as well. So probably a good time to bring that up again.”

The Bad Seed Food Truck

The meeting started with the request to use public space from Christina Hartley-Conroy, The Bad Seed food truck owner. Conroy said that she is having trouble finding an affordable private property lot to park her food truck in Grand Marais. She is requesting that the city council grant her permission to be located on Artist Point this summer. 

The national food truck industry has grown exponentially in recent years. However, Grand Marais currently does not have a food truck ordinance in place, only a peddler ordinance. 

Conroy said that there are not that many food trucks owned by residents that live in the county.

“I put money back into this county,” she said. “I’m not from out of town wanting to use my food truck. I will be more than happy to pay my peddlers license and a vendor license.”

The city council members agreed that there is no precedent for this issue in Grand Marais yet, and further discussion would be needed before a decision is made.

City Attorney Chris Hood told the council that if they allow a license agreement on city property “you may very well get other requests for that, and then how are you going to handle those?”

He added, “My recommendation would be that if we do an individual one, that it’d be a license agreement. And then if you get more, you would have to do similar license agreements.”

The council members agreed to do further research and have additional conversations before the next meeting May 25. 

Kiosk Bid Update – Creative Economy Collaborative

The remainder of the meeting focused on an update on the final selection of bids for the three kiosks to be constructed in Grand Marais. The Creative Economy Collaborative (CEC) brought forward a recommendation to select a bid from local artist Paul Nordlund. His bid to construct and install the three kiosks was $27,154. 

The original estimated budget presented to the city council in previous council meetings was $67,000. The CEC was pleased to find a local artist with a bid that was well under budget. The city council moved forward and approved the $27,154 bid from Nordlund May 14. 

During the meeting, the topic of compiling and displaying the content was discussed. 

The process has yet to begin, but the CEC said each kiosk would include a map and educational materials about the history of Grand Marais. The CEC emphasized that the physical design of the kiosks is not artwork. The kiosk is the frame for the content, adding, “The public art will be the content.” 

Mayor DeCoux said in an interview with WTIP that the next phase is for the CEC to create templates for the information that will be included in the kiosks and host public meetings. In regards to the content that will be included in the kiosks, DeCoux said that the number one priority is wayfinding, and number two is informing people about what’s going on in town. There will be QR codes posted that will direct people to the Visit Cook County website.

DeCoux said, “It’s a unique opportunity for us to communicate some of the history of Grand Marais.” 

The cost of compiling the content and the payment of a graphic designer were not included in the $27,154 bid from Nordlund. The city council will be funding the design cost of the content. DeCoux said he estimates that the cost will be between $5,000 and $10,000. 

Kiosk rendering:

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Jay DeCoux after the council meeting to learn more.