Grand Marais Park Board hears plan to improve water access

Improvements in safety and finding ways to make a bigger and better access to the current public boat ramp and possible wetland restoration in the Grand Marais campground area were the main topic of discussion at the Grand Marais Park Board March 4 meeting.

Joe Russell, Minnesota Department of Parks and Trails supervisor for the North Shore and Larry Killien, DNR Harbor Program Coordinator who manages and oversees the state’s Small Craft Harbor and Protected Access Programs on Lake Superior, came before the board.

Park Manager Dave Tersteeg noted that the project started in 2006 when the city had to replace some old docks and then began looking at other areas that needed upgrading. He said, “For several years now, we have been working with the DNR on improvements within the campground to enhance the public access to Lake Superior.”

A DNR-funded wave study, conducted by Johnson, Johnson and Roy, of the inner ‘rubble-mound’ break wall indicated that it is not big enough to protect the public. Harbor Program Coordinator Killien said, “The DNR has a ½ foot or less wave height design standard for public access projects.”

He explained that waves at launch shouldn’t be more than ½ foot. He said, “Otherwise it makes it hard to launch your boat or put it on a trailer when you are getting it out of the water.”

Killien said JJR looked at weather patterns, wind patterns, historical and current water levels, major storm events from one year to 50 years—along with possible costs for the fixes—and ran this data through their computers and finally recommended extending the current inner break wall 105 feet in the north/northeast direction.

New adjustable or floating docks would be installed, replacing the current dock, said Tersteeg, noting the city would still own the land and be responsible for maintenance of the docks. Part of the project could include improving the pavilion picnic area and creating a safe spot for kayakers and canoeists to land, said Tersteeg.

Financing will be sought from state and federal sources, said Russell.

Park Board Members Walt Mianowski, Sally Berg, Reid Dusheck, Robin Duchien, and Bill Lenz voiced support for the project but first wanted to hear from the public and get their input.

The draft plan can be found on the www.GrandMaraisRecreationArea.com. The park board will also host a public presentation and public comment meeting in the near future. Once it has gathered suggestions it will review the information and then make its recommendation to the Grand Marais City Council.