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Things not looking good for the state park


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From the Duluth News Tribune this AM. I personally would rather see the park myself. They are looking at a lot of development on one of the last fairly wild part of the lake.

Quote:
St. Louis County Board set to OK Lake Vermilion housing project

The St. Louis County Board today is expected to approve U.S. Steel’s “Three Bays on Vermilion’’ housing project on land Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants for a state park.

By: John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

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The St. Louis County Board today is expected to approve U.S. Steel’s “Three Bays on Vermilion’’ housing project on land Gov. Tim Pawlenty wants for a state park.

The board’s committee of the whole will vote on a development agreement with U.S. Steel that allows more flexible zoning rules on the 1,400-acre parcel of land on the southeast shore of Lake Vermilion near Soudan.

“I don’t see any reason it wouldn’t pass,’’ said Dennis Fink, County Board chairman.

“The consensus among the board, I think, is that the tax base here is more valuable than another park, especially if it [the project] is done right,’’ Fink said. “When this is fully

developed, this will be a huge addition of taxable property.’’

The county Planning Commission approved the special agreement last month that allows 62 lots on the lakeshore and an additional 86 back lots off the lake.

The plan also calls for an on-site wastewater treatment plant, boat landings and all roads and improvements to be paid by the developer.

It’s not clear when work might begin.

Supporters say the project will bolster local and county tax coffers when vacation and retirement homes are built.

The land includes nearly five miles of unspoiled Lake Vermilion shoreline, some of the last undeveloped land on the south side of the lake.

In 2007 Pawlenty announced that he wanted to buy the land from U.S. Steel to keep it mostly undeveloped and open to the public. He proposed a state park and asked U.S. Steel to delay development until the state could make an offer.

The company agreed to talk with the state but always said it would continue to pursue the housing development for the site if the state plan failed.

Last May, state lawmakers approved $20 million to buy the land and start construction of park campgrounds, an interpretive center, boat landings and trails. It was expected even more state money would be needed in coming years to finish that project.

But by August it became clear the two sides were far apart in a purchase price for the land. U.S. Steel insisted on about $20 million, while state officials say the land is appraised for about $14 million and that state law doesn’t allow the DNR to offer much more. Some officials have speculated that other issues, such as U.S. Steel’s several permits and other matters now before state regulatory agencies, may have played a role in the stalemate.

The two sides remained quiet on the project until last month when company officials said they were moving ahead with the development.

Mike Forsman, the county commissioner who represents the Lake Vermilion area, said he always has been skeptical the state would come up with enough money to make the park a reality.

“To this day, I would support a state-of-the-art park in that location. But there’s no way the state has that kind of money. Those kind of wish lists are gone in this economy,’’ Forsman said. “The $20 million was nowhere near enough … and I think a lot of this was politics by the governor.’’

Colleen Coyne, DNR director of communications, said the agency always knew U.S. Steel would continue down the path toward the development, but state officials still believe a deal can be reached before any lots are sold.

“We’re optimistic … that we can continue to pursue an agreement,’’ she said Monday.

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Thanks for posting. Tough situation. At least they're being honest and saying in would be the best for the tax base rather than saying it would be the best for the lake.

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It definitely won't be good for the lake. Something like 62 lake lots and 84 off lake lots. Lotsa people and building.

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It definitely won't be good for the lake. Something like 62 lake lots and 84 off lake lots. Lotsa people and building.

That may make a total of 146 cabins/homes that will probably be used 4 to 8 weeks a summer versus an estimated 200,000 state park visitors per summer.

Not sure which would be better for the lake in the long run.

Cliff

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Probably not a whole of manicured lawns down to the lake shore with state park and most of the lake front will probably stay the way it is. You know that people spending the $$$ on those lake homes are going to want a clear view of the lake.

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I just wonder if US Steel is playing the state for more money or leverage in other mining permit deals that are under way? Do they really want to spend millions of dollars building roads and a treatment plant before they can sell a single lot? In this market, how long will it take to get a return on this investment? This development must have looked a whole lot better when it first surfaced years ago. I think they are bluffing... looking for higher sale price or leverage in other deals...

But then again, what do I know?

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I am under the impression that removing lakeside vegetation (or specifically trees) for new construction is against the zoning laws. If that is still the case then I doubt that these homes will have manicured lawns right to the waters edge. I'm with Cliff in that I can't decide whether the state park or the development would be worse.

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PortageBay,

I believe that you hit the nail right on the head! As soon as USS found out that the state had agreed to fund the original purchase price the price suddenly went up! frown

53obigger is also right. The new cabin owners may WANT to clearcut to the lake shore but that will not happen if St. Louis County inforces their own lakeshore building laws!

Cliff

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One of the guys in our office has lake shore here in St. Louis and it seems you only have to leave something like a 5 ft buffer, and can completely clear enough for a swimming beach. I am not sure how much they consider a swimming beach.

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All these big developments swoon the local boards and councils with promises of tax revenue...zoning and restrictions all get waived. The article above even says, "The board’s committee of the whole will vote on a development agreement with U.S. Steel that allows more flexible zoning rules..."

I guess the factor that would sway me would be knowing how much boat traffic truly happens at campgrounds such as what's proposed for Vermilion. How many of the annual visitors would actually launch a boat? How does this compare to the number of boats on the water due to all the new cabins?

In general believe that the state park will be better for the shoreline and environment. Cabin owners will be more responsible with the lake.

It's like choosing to dip your hand in acid or hot oil.

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Part of the deal is relaxed zoning laws withing the development. There is nothing good about this. The county is going to blow all that tax money down in Duluth anyway. We won't see a red nickle of it up here around the lake.

If any of you fish down there in the Dog island Birch island area, you must have noticed the impact of just 2 new cabins in the lagoon behind Dog island.

Imagine what 62 new lake shore lots will do to the small bays in the area. Cable and Maston bays will be changed for ever. The great shoreline habitat that supports smallmouth bass will be totally destroyed by the development.

The soft bottoms in those bays will be nothing but clouds of silt from all the boat traffic and the lakes fishery will suffer.

USX has owned all that lake property for about 100 years. They aren't real worried about how fast they recoop thier investment, because there was no real investment. They paid about 25 cents an acer, if that. All the while, they are polluting the upper Pike river, which drains into Lake Vermilion, isn't that ironic.

First they dump their garbage in the system and pollute it and then they sell the land at inflated prices, and further the destruction of a once beautiful pristene wilderness.

The park would have a very small impact on the shoreline and it will take them years to build it. They can't sell all the cabins that are for sale on the lake now. What are they going to do with 62 more?

Land values up here on the lake are falling like a stone right now, I hope USX takes it right where the sun doesn't shine.

Just another prime example of the kind of thinking that got us all into this finacial mess that we are in right now, greed, greed and more greed.

Corporate America at it's very best, to heck with everyone else, as long a we make money.

"Ace"

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I don't know if either will have that much difference in boat traffic. Many people who camp don't even have boats. Seen plenty of that at Wake Em Up campgrounds on the West end of Vermilion.

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Ace, your elected county commissioners have to share the blame. They are looking for tax dollars to hand out to keep themselves in office.

Who did you vote for? I didn't get to vote.

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Yes, we are all to blame for what has been happening on Vermilion and also for who was voted into office, but many of us have been putting in a lot of our time and money into trying to change the way things are being done.

I for one do not think that it matters a fig who we elect to office they all eventually vote the way that the money tells them to vote!

Cliff

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Money, money, money....crook is a crook.

Sad thing is most of people who don't even use the lake make the rules.

Money, money, money.

Some pray to the god of greenbacks an silver n gold.

Crooks in office will get their day...some thing will go aray an they will pay.

Can't hide forever plus there is always KARMA!

Bankers an people in office are the very top of the heap.....Big pile or bird dropping munchers.

smile

Some of the fat kats living larger than most on or around the lake might want to belly up, offer up some $$$$$ in big bags they have tired to there docks....buy the land an donate it to the State or some club like boy scouts or down syndrom kids or cancer kids or make a wish or something no crooks care about....that would show them.

Money, money, money...

Sad thing no park...but it was bound to happen when things went south this winter on the market.

Money, money, money...

I don't know much but I know I like to fish an a crook is a crook....most people in office are crooks.

Who is the state senetor these days...or right...no one...the funny guy an the fake smile dude are still trading words an spending millions to get a job they both can't do...but want for the Money, money, money.

Money can buy you anything but a clear state o mind an a a ticket into heaven.........most elected officials are stoking the fires right now way down below.....makes my heart feel good knowing this....helps the ice melt a bit faster too.

All this is very serious I know....but I can never ever take politicians or bankers serious ever, ever again since mid early 70s....FOR SURE!

Save the lake....take a banker or elected official on a fishing trip into boundry waters...come home alone.

smile

Keep on rocken.

Tommy

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Tommy you sure have things figured out!! smile

Thanks for the chuckles but the sad truth!

Cliff

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Quote:
Corporate America at it's very best, to heck with everyone else, as long a we make money.

Corporate America's only reason for existence is to make money. It should be our elected officials who should be looking out for our interests, HA, HA, HA I can't believe I wrote that, what a joke wink

US steel puts up the development and specs it out for 140+ lot, about 140 families get access to the lake and who knows how often and how much use. The land gets a thorough development treatment, lawns, docks and who knows what else. And we know there are people who are going to build their lawn down to the lake or clear more than they are allowed and just pay the fines. Nasty runoff with all the fertilizer etc running down into the bays, not sure what spawns in there now, but I am sure not as many will in the aftermath.

They put in State park and every person willing to buy a State Park sticker will be able to use the park and the access. There won't be clear cut to the lake, probably one swimming area, not 62, one set of docks and boat launch not even sure of that, just a guess. We camp at State Parks, they try very hard to be low impact on the area, very low impact compared to a high end building development.

And yes I have fished back behind Dog Island and it just ain't the same. Doesn't have the same remote feel and experience. First time I seen it, it was a what the H--- happened here moment. Just ain't the same fishing out there with people sitting on the dock watching you. Kinda takes away from the experience. I don't blame people for wanting to build there, but it does take away from the experience.

The best option would be if it just stayed the way it is, but if it has to change(nothing ever stay the same forever)I thing the better option would be the State Park, not some huge development. I can hardly imagine seeing that area with all that development. It has a special beauty now that will be totally lost with all those homes built on the lake shore.

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Ace......I totally agree with you... 100%! That is one of my favorite areas of the lake and I hate to envision what it will look like in the coming years with the planned USS development.

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I think a state park would benefit my business and perhaps benefit the cities of Tower and Soudan. All of these decisions at some point are based upon money, whether it is St. Louis County wanting a better tax base, US Steel wanting more money for their land or me wanting more business based upon 200,000 people coming through the city of Tower.

The real question I think everyone who enjoys being outdoors has to look at is while it would be nice to have your own slice of heaven and not ever have to share it with anyone, what about the people who can't afford a place on Lake Vermilion or on any other lakes, but they can afford to pitch a tent and bring up their boat and go fishing. I just think at some point so much land is being privatized that some people are just getting squeezed out of being able to enjoy the resources. The DNR and a lot of other people are concerned about the lack of fishing and hunting licenses being sold, as well as the median age of people that are "sportsmen and sportswomen", what that means is that there are less people that care about the county regulations, about the DNR regulations and at some point there aren't enough voices to express concern over different programs that people who don't hunt or fish want to ram down our throats.

While I may be rambling I think that having a resource that a lot of people can enjoy as opposed as to having a resource that only a select group can enjoy will then only be controlled by the select group. Do I benefit from a State Park, yes I do, but I also think a lot of people benefit by having access to the resource that everyone who is on this forum enjoys.

I don't fault US Steel for saying here is what we want to sell our land at, I don't fault St. Louis County for wanting to get as much taxable value as they can, but I do hope that there is some way that the state and US Steel can work something out that allows as many people as possible to enjoy what we all enjoy.

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I read an article on the Duluth News Tribune yesterday saying Pawlenty just figures this is now a dead issue. Something to the tune of, if that what US Steel needs to get, the state is limited by law to pay only market value. So it could be the State Park is dead after all.

Or they may just be playing games with each other on price!

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As I recall, the Range delegation wasn't very enthusiastic for whatever reason. If they were, it could be made to happen. If they want to use it as a bargaining chip then probably not.

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Good stuff as always Tommy! grin Our elected officials in this state can't agree on what brand of coffee to serve in the legislative sessions...how are they going to agree on something important? crazy

Paul.

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My guess is that someone on the county board blew in their ear about what development would be approved. That is the key to the value of the property.

If the politicians from St. Louis county wanted to happen it would happen. As I recall, Rukavina, Dill, and Bakk were lukewarm at best and seemed to me to view this as an opportunity to extract more money for their constituents. I guess that is how they see their responsibility. Likewise St. Louis county seemed to mostly take the attitude of "what's in it for us". Look how they treated the Lake Vermilion development plan (or whatever it was called) that many folks spent many hours on.

I didn't expect anything else, but it is still sad to see it happen. Now let's see if Waters of Vermilion gets their 40 dock spaces and a lakeside parking lot after agreeing to 8 spaces.

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I thought that Waters dock project finally got the AX?

It did, but it is now going to court! frown

Cliff

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Back to the state park...

I dont think that it is right that the state should set up a "resort" type experience with cabins for rental.

there are plenty of family owned resorts on vermilion that have a tough enough time keeping cabins full all year, without competition from the government. That is not the american way- the government is not supposed to be in competition with private businesses.

Even if the state says they will not have the same services provided as a resort it is not right- and if there is a gap in availability of certain resort experiences that the private resort owners are not providing, then the resort owners can figure that out and provide whatever type of visitor experience is lacking- possibly supply more camping or rusitc cabins or whatever- but not the state!

Been visiting vermilion for many many years and i will miss the "feeling" of that area- as a young kid i spent plenty of time exploring over there in a small boat- now i fish quite a bit over there and will miss the "wilderness" type feeling, but what can we do? we could possibly take up collection and buy it as a group but it is out of my price range.

as far as the park bringing in business to tower/soudan it probably would, but so would cabins- cabin owners spend plenty in tower at stores. Take Ely as an example how many visitors to the BWCA pack everything from the cities and go directly to the parking lot- after their canoe trip they take a dump in the gas station and drive home- would these be the business transactions a park on vermilion would bring to tower/soudan? - i wish i knew

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a612er,

Welcome to FM/HSO !

I think you have a misconception of what the Park would be. There never was any plans for the state to build cabins ect. for rental as far as I know and as you seem to indicate.

There would be a fairly large public landing installed, roads into that area,campsites, facilities, trails , ect.

Definately not a wilderness setting after that! frown

Cliff

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