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Serving Northern St. Louis County, Minnesota

Town board to downsize McKinley Park improvements

Stephanie Ukkola
Posted 5/4/23

SOUDAN- Only $18,000 of a $30,000 Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) funding request was granted to Breitung Township for improvements to McKinley Park and Stuntz Bay. This means …

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Town board to downsize McKinley Park improvements


SOUDAN- Only $18,000 of a $30,000 Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB) funding request was granted to Breitung Township for improvements to McKinley Park and Stuntz Bay. This means the township needs to revamp their plans, which had included Stuntz Bay dock replacement, McKinley Park dock decking, playground updates, sound system equipment, a large capacity canopy, new serving tables and picnic tables.
Current funding for the project includes $18,000 from IRRRB, $12,000 from McKinley Park funds, $7,500 from Stuntz Bay Association, $2,500 from Lake Country Power and $20,000 from the township for a grand total of $60,000.
At their April 29 meeting, the Breitung Town Board quickly decided that the Stuntz Bay part of the project would be given first priority, since the association is providing matching funds. Deciding the rest of the priorities was up for debate. 
Supervisor Matt Tuchel, looking at the numbers, first suggested to cut out the playground, wondering if they could set that aside for 2024 as a separate project.
“The canopy (for Old Settlers) is definitely needed, if we could just hold off on the playground,” Tuchel said. “Or we could do the playground and Stuntz Bay and get rid of the rest of it.”
The board asked campground manager Susie Chiabotti if the dock decking and playground equipment could last another year. Chiabotti said that was a possibility. But the condition of the playground equipment was a concern for both Tuchel and a resident in the audience, who both noted it was in very poor condition and a possible liability.
Board Chair Tim Tomsich said he had heard that one of the directors of Old Settlers would provide funding for the sound system equipment. “If that’s the case, it will be no money out of our pockets,” he said.
Tomsich asked the board to go ahead to order the new dock for Stuntz Bay. The main dock at the landing was destroyed last spring from ice damage.
“Then we’ll find out more information on the sound system and bullhorn for Old Settlers, and if they have the funds they’d be ok to do that, and we’ll wait till the July meeting to see about the rest of the items.” A motion was passed to go ahead with this plan.
Comments about the project can be made to clerk Dianna Sunsdahl by emailing or by calling the office, 218-753-6021.
In other news, the board:
• Heard that the infrastructure project on 1st Avenue from Gordon St. then going halfway down Church St. to the mud ditch did not score high enough to receive funding from IRRR. Chairman Tim Tomsich will work with IRRR to improve the project. The project had already received funding from CBDG.
• Heard from Tomsich that he had a meeting with the St. Louis County land director, environmental services director, and city road engineer to discuss the Thompson Farm Road, gravel pit, and ATV trail project. The county suggested another route, running the road parallel to where the trail is planned, which would change the highway entrance. Another suggestion was to run the road on the property line between the township’s property and the privately owned gravel pit’s property. The group will have another meeting and include MnDOT. The board made a motion to approve pursuing the relocation of the Thompson Farm Rd. to the eastern edge of the township’s property.
• Accepted possession of a Kia that had been impounded for DWI. Chief Dan Reing will look into options for selling or auctioning the vehicle.
• Heard from Chief Reing who suggested applying for a Firehouse grant for a side-by-side ATV to be used during the 4th of July and to patrol the trails. Tomsich expressed concern about the extra costs associated with maintaining an extra vehicle. No action was taken.
• Approved a travel request for Chief Reing to fly to Kentucky for Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.). The G.R.E.A.T. program is taught by an officer in schools to teach conflict resolution, anti-bullying, and resisting gang violence. Reing said the state of Minnesota will reimburse 75 percent of the costs for the training and money from fundraisers and donations will pay for the remaining costs. He said Vermilion Country School has agreed to do the program and Tower-Soudan Elementary School has indicated they’d like to do the program but still need to bring it to the school board. Reing said the class is taught in schools for a couple hours a week for six or twelve weeks.
• Talked with a resident about vacating an area of land adjacent to his property at 5737 Puncher Pt. Rd to allow the resident to build a garage.The board directed clerk Dianna Sunsdahl to work with the resident to complete the process. The land is a conservation right-of-way to Lake Vermilion.
• Heard that tickets for a blighted home on Jasper St. have not been paid yet.
• Heard a request form residents Amanda and Paul Meyer to make changes to their driveway on Miettunen Plat Rd. The board voted to authorize Keith Mattila from maintenance to speak with the homeowners and let the project move forward with his approval.
• Paid an invoice to JPJ Engineering for $22,176 for designing infrastructure improvements. 

• Passed a motion to have Tuchel serve as the township representative for the ambulance ad hoc committee.
• Heard that CTC will run fiber internet to the McKinley Park Campground Office for free if the township signs a contract for five years of service at a fixed cost of $153 per month. The board passed a motion to enter into the contract.
• Discussed getting broadband internet for residents. Supervisor Tuchel will look into it.
• Set township clean-up days for June 5, 6 and 7.
• Heard that hazardous waste day at the Soudan Canister Site will be 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28.
• The next meeting will be Thursday, May 25 at noon.


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