City agrees to work with zip line developer

Matt Geretschlaeger, whose proposal last month to build a zip 
line adjacent to a residential area at the city’s west entrance met 
with citizen and council opposition, told the council on April 11 that 
he had come up with a more suitable location. He said that location—a 
parcel on the Gunflint Trail adjacent to and east of the city water 
tower—is better because of its topography, proximity to town, minimal 
area of current development and zoning.
The Council expressed its willingness to work with Geretschlaeger on 
the Gunflint Trail site and voted to order an appraisal of the 20 
acres (the cost of which would be billed to the developer) to come up 
with a fair market value, and then negotiate for sale or lease of the 
property giving Geretschlaeger the right of first refusal. 
Geretschlaeger said he would be open to either option (lease or 
purchase), but he preferred to purchase the land and is willing to pay 
whatever the fair market price is determined to be.
City Attorney Chris Hood advised that the sale of the property would 
be more of a “straightforward transaction,” and cautioned that a lease 
may involve the city in any number of liability issues.
The Grand Marais City Council put the plans for a new zip line on the 
fast track with unanimous approval to appraise and negotiate the sale 
of 20 acres of city-owned land off the Gunflint Trail for development 
of the $750,000 enterprise.
According to information presented by Geretschlaeger, the “Sawtooth 
Mountain Indurance Course” will be built by Geronimo Construction of 
Biwabik and include a 2,500-square-foot lodge on an additional acre, a 
1,000-foot driveway, two access trails, one launch deck platform and 
two 35-foot towers.
The plans say the deck will be visible from town as it is located in a 
natural clearing, but the towers will not. The lodge building will be 
visible from the Gunflint Trail. The course will not be illuminated.
Geretschlaeger said the operation will create 23 new jobs and be open 
about 100 days per year.