City supports IRRRB grant application for Superior Zip Line project

On Wednesday, June 27,  Matt Geretschlaeger appeared before 
council to ask that the city apply to the IRRRB for a $300,000 Public 
Works Grant to pay for infrastructure to the Gunflint Trail site of 
his proposed Superior Zip Line project.
The request triggered some haggling over wording of a draft letter and
resolution Geretschlaeger presented and the propriety of the city 
becoming further involved with the project.
Geretschlaeger explained that the grant application is actually a two-
step process, and further details such as price breakdowns will be 
provided in the final request, which will be presented to council at a 
future meeting. All he wanted now, Geretschlaeger said, was permission 
to be the recipient of a grant based on information to be presented in 
two weeks.
Furthermore, he said, the grant has a limit of $300,000. “It’s very 
simple…you prove the cost, and that’s all you get.” Geretschlaeger 
went on to explain that the IRRRB grant under discussion was designed 
“just for this purpose,” and is “extremely common to run 
infrastructure.” He also pointed out that the zip line is a $1 million-
plus project that will bring jobs and an additional recreational 
attraction to the city, and one in which he has personally made a 
large financial investment. “I’m not here to say I’m gonna do this 
with smoke and mirrors. That’s not the case here…I’m all in.”
City Administrator Mike Roth assured council that the grant, if 
approved, was only pass-through money, and none of the city’s money 
would be involved. He agreed with Geretschlaeger that public works 
grants are common for projects such as assisted living facilities, 
which the city was considering last year.
Councilor Tim Kennedy said he was not willing to approve an open-ended 
resolution without the details, but believed it was appropriate for 
the city to help procure the grant, especially since it will benefit 
economic development. However, he said, Geretschlaeger needs to be 
aware that more details are necessary before he can give it his full 
support.
Council voted 4-1 to authorize the application to the IRRRB, with Jan 
Sivertson casting the lone no vote. Sivertson said she has already 
received some “bad reports” about the city’s involvement in the zip 
line project, especially since the city sold the land to the developer.
“I feel that since we sold the land, we’ve done our part. This (grant  
application) just puts us in a further position with this project,” 
she said.