Thirteen New Great Place Projects Across Cook County and Grand Portage

2015 GPP Recipient

The Cook County Chamber of Commerce and the Moving Matters project of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic are pleased to announce the winners of the 2015 Great Place Project. Twenty seven local businesses, nonprofits, and individuals submitted creative ideas from across Cook County and Grand Portage. $10,000 in grants will be awarded to 13 recipients to help create great places within our communities.

“It’s both gratifying and exciting to see so many creative applications in the second year of the Great Place Project,” said Jim Boyd, executive director of the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. “Our county already is a Great Place; these projects make it a bit greater, and we all get to enjoy the results.”

The Great Place Project is a friendly, local competition for mini-grants to use high impact, low cost ideas to create great places in our communities. A great place is inviting, beautiful, and catches the eye. It reflects the unique character and identity of the community. And a great place encourages people to slow down and spend time there. “We know that people will be active where they have pleasant and safe places to do so. The Great Place Project has been an incredible opportunity to invest in community spaces and the health of our community” said Moving Matters Coordinator Kristin DeArruda Wharton.

2015 Grant Recipients:

Arrowhead Pharmacy: Mural paintings by local artist Betsy Bowen, complemented by seating and landscaping.

Birchbark Books and Gifts: Locally themed mural paintings with hidden books by local artist Tim Young.

Border Designs: Rustic park bench and plantings by walking path in Lutsen.

Cook County Higher Education: Welcoming entrance with plantings, enhanced walking path, and picnic table.

Cook County Historical Society: Gathering place with plantings, seating, and enhanced bike parking at museum.

Grand Portage Wellness Committee: Community Park gathering table and grill in Grand Portage.

Java Moose: Chair seating by the Grand Marais Harbor, at both café locations.

Kah-Nee-Tah Gallery: Log bench seating area with plantings.

Last Chance Studio: Moose sculpture created by local artist Tom Christianson.

Oddz and Endz: Resting spot with benches, tables, and planters using repurposed and recycled materials.

Schroeder Area Historical Society: ADA accessible viewfinder at Taconite Harbor.

Tofte Historical Society: Planters to enhance the plaza at the North Shore Commercial Fishing Museum.

Visit Cook County: Enhancement of Grand Marais Visitor Center common area with benches and planters.

The Great Place Project is sponsored by the Moving Matters project of the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic and the Cook County Chamber of Commerce. The Moving Matters project, with funding from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota’s Center for Prevention, is working to create safer and more accessible places to walk and bike in Cook County and Grand Portage.

Published in the Cook County News-Herald, 4/18/15 edition.

Your Feedback Requested on Highway 61 Concept Designs

6D 3rd Highway 61 Redesign Meeting 131 resized

On February 24th, over 50 community members gathered in Grand Marais for the third meeting of Highway 61 Revisited, a process for envisioning a redesign of the Highway 61 corridor through Grand Marais.

The meetings have been convened by the City of Grand Marais after redesign of Highway 61 was deemed a priority by the city council last year with community input. While Highway 61 through Grand Marais is a Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) road, the meetings have created an opportunity for community members to share their vision for the future of the highway corridor. This has resulted in two concept designs for the corridor. “There has been excellent community participation in the process both at in-person meetings [with over 50 attendees at each meeting] as well as through online comment opportunities and in one-on-one conversations with property owners along the corridor,” conveyed Mike Fischer with LHB, Inc. at the meeting on the 24th.

During the most recent meeting, the design team, including consultants CJ Fernandez and Jason Aune of Aune Fernandez Landscape Architects and Mike Fischer of LHB, Inc., shared an update on the ongoing conceptual design process, including revised concept designs and the next steps. There was also an update on the Health Impact Assessment on the project, which is being led by the Sawtooth Mountain Clinic with the assistance of a community committee. The group discussion identified many areas that the process has begun to address and those that the city will continue to investigate with community involvement, including parking, safe crossings, street landscaping, and a walk/bike trail.

“A locally led community visioning process is not the normal way highway projects are begun,” says City Administrator Mike Roth. “This has given our community the opportunity to guide future investment in the highway to meet our local needs.” Although the developed concept designs are not final, they have been created based on the conditions of the corridor, within current right-of-way, and using appropriate standards such as lane widths. To ensure this, MnDOT District 1 staff has been consulted by the design team through the process and was in attendance at the meeting. As the project continues, the City will provide additional opportunities for the community to participate and refine the plans.

While MnDOT does not have a Highway 61 project on its current schedule, this local process has been an opportunity to envision design needs for the community to be ready when the opportunity arises for a project. The design team has identified the scope of a potential project and will be making estimates of probable project costs. The City of Grand Marais has made an application for federal funds to assist with pedestrian and bicyclist infrastructure in the corridor and expect to hear in April whether they are successful. When the project is scheduled, a formal process would begin, starting with pre-design and finishing with construction which can take up to several years.

The opportunity for feedback on the current concept designs will be open until Monday, March 23rd at www.becausemovingmatters.org/highway61, where the current drafts may be viewed and an online comment card is available. The designs may also be viewed at City Hall, 15 N. Broadway, Grand Marais, MN, and paper comment cards will be available.