Cedar Grove Business Park in Grand Marais may finally be emerging from the black cloud it has been under since the project broke ground in 2006. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) enforcement action against the Cook County/Grand Marais Joint Economic Development Authority (EDA) and its contractor KGM has been settled. It’s been nearly four years since stormwater violations, committed during construction of the of the business park, got the MPCA’s attention. Mike Littfin is the EDA’s board chair.
“Basically it’s behind us at this point,” says Littfin. “The final result is that, per the MPCA the EDA was held harmless regarding the violations that did occur. The sole responsibility for the fines that were issued were absorbed by KGM, and they amounted to $120,000. It was a $40,000 cash fine and there was an $80,000 fine which was paid in KGM performing some services, and that was restructuring, or reconstruction of the village ditch north of the new Gunflint. So when it was all said and done, the EDA ended up having to pay our own attorney’s fees to defend ourselves, so we had that expense, and just the literally two years of time it took to resolve. But, having everything done and completed, and basically having the whole stormwater thing removed and not over everybody’s head I think is going to signify that the park is in, we meet all the requirements, and I think it kind of removes a cloud. We’re very happy that that’s over with.”
Construction at the business park is also nearly complete, with only the final coat of asphalt on the driveway left to be done.
“We did vote last night to go ahead with the final lift of asphalt," says Littfin, referring to the September 14 EDA board meeting. "It would be the topcoat, the finish coat of asphalt on the roadway itself. That contract was issued to the tune of about $152,000., and we do have money in the bonding to cover that. That we’re hoping to have completed yet this year, and that should pretty much wrap up the final construction.”
With the MPCA troubles behind it, and the park nearing completion, the EDA is now turning its attention to marketing and selling lots in the park. A marketing study for Cedar Grove was recently completed by the EDA Center at the University of Minnesota, Crookston.
“We’re still waiting for the final report from Crookston, which will hopefully aid us in the marketing of the lots,” says Littfin.
Selling lots in the business park is critical in order for the EDA to meet the annual bond payments, at least in the short term, without having to go to the city or county for help. The city of Grand Marais refinanced the park in November of last year, issuing $1.6 million in 20-year general obligation bonds. The yearly bond payment will average about $119,000 per year, climbing steadily over the life of the bonds, to about $131,000 per year by 2031. At current average lot prices, this means the EDA will need to sell about two to three lots per year in order to meet the bond payments, however lot sales alone will not cover the entire amount of the bonds, close to $2 million with interest.