The Grand Marais City Council has received several complaints about poor air quality when the city’s burn pile burns. Councilors are considering all options including closing the burn pile.
The burn pile is located above the water tower on the Gunflint Trail and is used by contractors and residents alike. The complaint is that the smoke causes problems with hospital patients and care center residents as well as with students and staff at ISD166.
While the pile is mean to take brush and vegetation, city workers often find construction materials, appliances and even furniture they have to haul away. The burn pile is not gated or staffed, but according to the city’s streets supervisor Lenny Bloomquist, it still requires regular checking.
Bloomquist: Basically, we check it everyday. We do occasionally have to haul a load of junk to Pederson’s because we can’t burn it. It takes a fair amount of time. The difference may be if it’s out of town that we may be able to just let it accumulate for a much longer period of time and than burn it at once, rather than trying to burn it more often to keep from having such a big fire.
Mayor Sue Hakes asked if the burn pile just couldn’t go away. The city will work with the county, Frirewise and Forest Service to identify possible out-of-city burn sites. A public hearing has been scheduled for September 29 to hear from the public before any decision is made.