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Park Board Master Plan Harbor Park Local Info

Parkside Public Access project:

As we progress with building out projects identified in the 2009 Master Plan, we have tasted success with the creation of the Community Connection in the northeast corner of the park. This all-access entrance to the park has met our Master Plan driven objectives of improving pedestrian access, enhancing community engagement and featuring storm water management in an attractive, functional pocket park. With these same objectives in mind, we now extend our focus to another high priority piece of the park’s infrastructure – public water access in the southwest corner of the harbor.

Public water access to Lake Superior has long been a tradition in the Grand Marais harbor and the DNR has been the major partner for providing this access. Currently, we offer 3 access ramps/docks within the harbor basin. We learned a lot about public water access in the Master Plan process:  it’s important to provide safe, convenient access;  the 3 existing  launches all have design deficiencies;  the preferred location for public access is in the southwest corner of the harbor. The DNR reviewed our Master Plan in 2009, and the idea of improving the existing access in our park began to mature.

Consensus to improve our park side point on the western shores of the harbor has always been strong. In addition to a large, gravel surface lot eroding directly into the harbor, landside facilities at this site include the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) garages (with considerable outside, industrial storage for their operations) and the county Dog Pound. City planning and visioning documents have long expressed the desire to relocate the PUC garages out of the park. The local, non-profit Animal Advocates group has also been seeking an off-site, upgrade for the pound. In 2011, an offer from the DNR to rebuild the public access facilities at this site was reviewed and accepted by the Park Board and City Council. Survey and preliminary design work began, and a cooperative partnership agreement between the city and the DNR was signed in 2012. (Click here to view the working concept plan of the project.)

One of the first components of the project the DNR ordered further study on were the wave conditions in the southwest corner of the harbor.  An existing rubble-mound break wall of approximately 100’ offers some protection from east/southeast waves, however, after a complete wave analysis by the engineering firm JJR, it has been determined that improvements to the break wall are necessary.  To provide safe egress for boaters, the DNR has a 1/2 foot or less wave height recommendation for public access projects. Having calmer conditions at the ramp, even in high winds, is paramount for boater safety. An extension to the existing break wall of approx. 105 feet would provide the necessary protection to ensure calm conditions at the launch. (click here for an aerial harbor view of proposed breakwall) Before further design work proceeds, the DNR has asked for our review and approval of this new break wall configuration (click here for a visual).

Another component of this project involves storm water management and resource protection. Best Management Practices (BMPs) are an integral part of our working concept plan. Restoring coastal wetlands may be one of the BMPs available to compliment other storm water management infrastructure planned for the site (click here for visual).   

The Park Board would like input on our plans – Tell us what you think. We welcome your comments in writing to

The Master Plan
The Community Connection project is a result of the Master Plan, a living document designed to guide planning and development of the Recreation Area. Goals and policies of the Master Plan provide a framework for policy level decision making. The visionary, aerial site map of the parkland depicts broad concepts for land use.

You can view a copy of the Master Plan recommended by the Park Board in September, 2009, the Goals and Policies and FAQs.

All of the above links connect to pdfs.

Reservations :: 800-998-0959 or 218-387-1712

Highway 61 and 8th Avenue West on the harbor and Lake Superior in Grand Marais, Minnesota
mailing address -> PO Bo 820, Grand Marais, MN 55604

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