Grand Marais Park Board reviews Recreation Park draft concept plans following public comment period
Kalli Hawkins

Grand Marais Park Board reviews Recreation Park draft concept plans following public comment period

During the August 1 Grand Marais Park Board meeting, the board reviewed and discussed the two draft concept plans for the Recreation Park. 

The city is working with HKGi, a Twin Cities-based company, to update the previous concept plan, incorporate public and stakeholder engagement, and develop a long-term vision for the Rec Park. 

During the meeting, Gabrielle Grinde, the project leader for HKGi, presented the two draft concept plans following the public input period and recommendations from board members.

Concept 1

Concept 1 included leaving the existing ballfield, removing the parking area in front of the marina slips and adding green space, updating and improving the bathhouses, improving vehicle paths around the campground office, improving the marina and adding 20 boat slips, adding a breakwall, improvements to the Rec Hall, and adding wayfinding, gateway, and interpretive signage. 

During the meeting, Grand Marais Recreation Park Manager Dave Tersteeg said, “The portrayal of the breakwall itself right now is very, I would say, just vague or raw for the unengineered. And the same would be said for the docks themselves. There’s going to be a whole other round, multiple rounds of technical study and engineering if and when we are improving the marina.”

Concept 2

Concept 2 included the majority of Concept 1 improvements and changes. The significant difference in the Concept 2 draft plan included adding a wide pedestrian and bike trail near the shoreline. The proposal to establish a pedestrian pathway available for wheelchairs and easier mobility access would result in removing 17 campsites. 

Board member Steve Aldrich asked Grinde and Tersteeg what the financial cost or revenue lost of potentially losing 17 campsites from the Recreation Park would be. 

Tersteeg responded, “I can’t just give you a number with any confidence on what it would cost to lose those 17 sites.” He added, “There’s not a lot of accuracy in any kind of guesstimating in what kind of what we’re going to make or what we’re going to lose based on some of these moves.” 

“Obviously, we’re not talking about taking out 50 of these sites or 100 of these sites. That’s much more macro, and I think easy to put some numbers to the loss, but when we’re talking about these numbers of 10 or 15 or 20 sites, I can’t give you any financial repercussions not knowing the future and what we’ve heard about aesthetics and economics and the prime sites and the value of the prime sites and what the overnight rate pays vs. the seasonal rate even.” 

Tersteeg explained that they would have to look at the site classification, whether it is a seasonal vs. an overnight, due to the differences in price and return. He said the loss of 17 sites would be hard to quantify because the remaining campsites would be improved in the master plan, and the cost per night or seasonal rate would be increased. 

Aldrich, “Before we were to get rid of those 17 sites, it seems to me that there are assumptions one could make and numbers one could attach to those assumptions, and so we can at least get some idea what the range of possible outcomes are.”

Grinde said they could put together a revenue estimate looking at the previous year’s data and a potential revenue loss for the loss of 17 sites and potential revenue gain for overall campsite improvements.

Board member Craig Schulte said he was not in favor of Concept 2 and the potential of losing 17 campsites to add a pedestrian pathway. 

The board then discussed widening existing roads to include space for pedestrians and bikers to recreate. 

Grinde and Tersteeg will work on making the discussed adjustments to both concept plans and will put together a plan for the next step of public engagement, possibly in mid-September. 

The entire Grand Marais Park Board Meeting is here.

WTIP’s CJ Heithoff spoke with Dave Tersteeg about a midsummer update on the rec park and an overview of the draft concept plans presented at the August 1 park board meeting. Audio from the interview is below.