Construction of ‘Community Connector’ project to begin in May
City of Grand Marais

Construction of ‘Community Connector’ project to begin in May

A project in the works for over ten years in the Grand Marais Recreation Park is coming to fruition.

The ‘Community Connector’ project was first introduced in 2011 at a Grand Marais Park Board meeting during the master planning process. The project raised the idea of an entryway of sorts to the campground, marina, and waterfront area in the unused space between the Recreation Park and the North House Folk School.

After years of unsuccessful attempts to get the project off the ground, due to exorbitantly priced bids and stormwater management concerns, the project lingered on the ‘to-do’ list. Most recently, in April of 2022, the Grand Marais Connector project was put up for bid, resulting in one quote of $515,000. The park board and city council decided to re-bid the project in hopes of securing a lower quote.

In February, the park board received numerous new quotes ranging from $359,000 to $745,000. After discussion during the March 7 park board meeting, the board decided to approve the lowest bid from Global Specialties of Eagan, Minn., for $359,517.

The following day, on March 8, the city council approved the recommendation from the park board to hire Global Specialties.

Plans to commence construction on the Grand Marais Connector project will begin in May, with construction wrapping up in October. The ‘Community Connector’ will feature and recognize the late George Morrison. The project has received support from George Morrison’s family – musician Briand Morrison and his mother, artist Hazel Belvo.

During the March 8 meeting, Dave Tersteeg, the parks and recreation manager said that funding for the ‘Community Connector’ project consists of capital improvement funds within the parks general fund.

“We were able to create a reserve fund, a line item within the general fund that’s dedicated park capital funding,” Tersteeg said. At the time of the reserve funds creation, it was ceded with about $500,000, Tersteeg explained. Throughout the past five years, the park has allocated approximately $160,000 to the reserve fund for capital improvements each year.

“The balance is $1.1 million currently,” Tersteeg said during the meeting.

In addition to the allocated funding from the park, the Creative Economy Collaborative (CEC), through the Cook County/Grand Marais Economic Development Authority, has received a $50,000 streetscape improvement grant from the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB).

WTIP’s CJ Heithoff spoke with Dave Tersteeg, the parks and recreation manager, following the March 7 park board meeting. Audio from the interview is below.

WTIP’s Kalli Hawkins spoke with Grand Marais Mayor Tracy Benson following the March 8 city council meeting. Audio from the interview is below.