Still Hope for State Park on Lake Vermilion?

Might a state park still grace the shores of Lake Vermilion?

A proposal to develop Minnesota’s first new state park in 30 years on property currently owned by U.S. Steel lost steam recently when the company and the State of Minnesota disagreed on the value of the land in question. Despite bi-partisan support at the state capitol last year to secure the land along the southeastern shore of Lake Vermilion for a park — and strong backing for the idea from Governor Tim Pawlenty — the bottom line appeared to doom the deal.

U.S. Steel asked $20 million for the 2,500 acre property, but the state was only willing to pay about $15.7 million. Seeing an impasse, U.S. Steel recently moved forward with alternate plans to develop the site into 148 private lots.

The Ely Timberjay’s Marshall Helmberger, however, thinks a closer look at the numbers may bring U.S. Steel back into talks with the state. In his opinion and analysis piece, HERE, Helmberger wonders, after crunching the numbers, if the up-front investments the company would need to make to get the land ready for sale to private buyers won’t ultimately make the state’s offer look like a good deal.

Additionally, a Minneapolis Star-Tribune editorial last month, HERE, made the argument that there was value for U.S. Steel in the goodwill it would buy by selling the land to the state for a park.

Not everyone, of course, is in favor of the proposed park. State Senator David Dill, who represents the area, told Minnesota Public Radio recently, HERE, that his district has enough parks and public lands already.

Proposed Lake Vermilion State Park is outlined in black. The existing Soudan Mine State Park is outlined in green. (Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR)
Proposed Lake Vermilion State Park is outlined in black. The existing Soudan Mine State Park is outlined in green. (Map courtesy of the Minnesota DNR)

Check out a maps and photos of the proposed park.

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