Community effort secures final property for Grand Marais Harbor Park (MN)

Grand Marais, MN -The Trust for Public Land, a national land conservation organization, working with the City of Grand Marais, the Minnesota Land Trust and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, has completed the purchase of the last privately owned piece of the historic Grand Marais Harbor ensuring that the property remains open for public use. The addition of the .643-acre parcel to the city’s publicly owned harbor was critical to the completion of the community’s vision of a permanently protected parkway running the length of the Harbor on Lake Superior.

For 75 years, the site was home to a Standard Service Station and became available when current owner, Gene Erickson, decided to sell the gas station. Having been clearly identified for years as a priority for the city, community members banded together to ensure that the property wasn’t lost to commercial use. The Harbor Park project is a unique private/public partnership, which raised the money to purchase the property from various sources including the Elmer L. & Eleanor J. Andersen Foundation, donations from supporters of the Grand Marais Harbor Project, a Minnesota DNR Natural and Scenic Area Grant, and a program related investment from the Blandin Foundation. A land value donation from the Ericksons was also instrumental in securing the property.

“The real story here is the way the community worked together to make their vision of a unified and protected harbor come true,” notes Cyndy Whiteford, Midwest Regional Director of the Trust for Public Land. “This is a gift to future generations of Minnesotans who will benefit from this small city’s commitment to vital public space.”

“We as a community had a vision for the lakeshore and this is one example of setting aside land for future generations,” adds Grand Marais Mayor Andrea Peterson. “This is only the beginning. The next phase is the designing of the park and that is tremendously exciting.”

The service station will be cleared, the underground tanks have been removed and the property will be restored to a natural state and managed as part of the 100-acre public park along the harbor. Securing the property protects it from future commercial development that would threaten both the character of this unique community and the delicate ecosystem of Lake Superior.

Founded in 1972, the Trust for Public Land specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law to protect land for public use and enjoyment. TPL recently launched its Greenprint for Growth campaign to conserve land as a way to guide growth, protect air and water, and assure a high quality of life in communities nationwide.