While the governor announced Friday that the state and US Steel had reached agreement on a sale price for land for a new Lake Vermilion State Park, a final deal will require the blessing of the Legislature. The $20 million authorization approved by the Legislature two years ago had provisions that limited the amount of money that could go towards acquisition and the $18 million sale price may or may not exceed that.
In either case, whether this land is protected for future generations will depend on actions this session at the Legislature and we should not take for granted that legislators, including local legislators, will support it. In fact, one of our legislators was quoted on Minnesota Public Radio sounding pretty hostile to the whole idea, citing the same old myth that the park would cost the county tax dollars. This is absolutely untrue and every legislator and every county commissioner knows this to be untrue. The county's tax levy is completely unaffected whether or not the park exists. And in a county with more than $10 billion in valuation, no taxpayer could even tell the difference in terms of the taxes they will pay if this park is created.
The economic impact, on the other hand, is likely to be significant, particularly for the Tower and Ely area. This will bring, at a minimum, tens of thousands (the DNR estimates 400,000) of visitors to the area every year.
Any legislator who is willing to deny that economic impact to communities he or she represents, needs to examine his or her priorities.
In the meantime, park supporters need to get to work to call or email our area legislators to urge them to support the park.
You can call legislators here:
Tom Rukavina: 651-296-0170; home 218-749-5690; cell 780-7666 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
David Dill: 651-296-2190 or email at email@example.com.
Tom Bakk: 651-296-8881 (he is a supporter, but encouragement is important)
David Tomassoni: 651-296-8017 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tony Sertich: 651-296-0172 or email at email@example.com