Cook County

Passion Pit committee explores options for Lake Superior parcel near Grand Marais

In mid-April, the Cook County Board of Commissioners made the decision to form a committee exploring the best use for what is locally called “Passion Pit,” a Lake Superior lakefront property currently owned by the Minnesota Department of Transportation located just east of Grand Marais.

The reason a committee needed to be formed to determine the best use of this property is in response to ongoing issues that present problems for neighbors and environmental issues related to use at Passion Pit. Local residents voiced concern in 2020 and previously about littering, late-night revelry, human waste being deposited and left on the beach and nearby woods and other ongoing issues.

To address both the short term issues listed above, and the long term issue regarding who should own and manage the property, participants for the committee were picked to reflect the diverse views of the community, organizations or government body they represent, the commissioners agreed.

The committee held their first meeting Tuesday, April 27 via Zoom.

The committee includes:
–David Rohl, of the county’s parks and trails commission
–Myron Bursheim from the local historical society
–John Morrin from Grand Portage
–Staci Drouillard, a Chippewa City descendant
–David Homyak, a nearby landowner
–Margaret Hedstrom, a nearby land owner
–Tim Witzmann, local property owner
–Maria Burnett, a local resident
–Tyson Smith, a local attorney and property owner.

The Grand Marais City Council appointed Kelly Swearingen and Commissioner Ann Sullivan was selected to represent the county. In addition, Cook County Land Services Director Tim Nelson is serving as a representative of the county’s department on the committee. Sullivan was selected to chair the committee.

The first meeting of the committee was beneficial toward achieving some of the short-term issues, Sullivan told WTIP’s Joe Friedrichs during a May 4 interview (audio shared below).

Though largely an introductory and planning-based discussion, the committee agreed to send survey letters to property owners on Old Shore Road located near the Passion Pit area. The committee also agreed to meet twice per month, on the second and fourth Monday of May, for example, until more short-term solutions are made regarding the upcoming summer and busy season near Lake Superior and Grand Marais. Furthermore, Sullivan said the committee members will brainstorm and seek public input regarding changing the parcel name from ‘Passion Pit’ to something more reflective of the property’s past and connection to Lake Superior.

To view the April 27 meeting in its entirety, click here.

The committee’s next meeting is Monday, May 10.