U.S. Steel agrees to sell land for Lake Vermilion state park
DULUTH -- Gov. Tim Pawlenty's dream of turning undeveloped Lake Vermilion shoreline into a state park has taken a giant step forward.
Several years of negotiations between U.S. Steel, which owns the property, and the state had faltered. The corporation was moving forward to develop 1,400-acre parcel into upscale housing. The parcel includes five miles of Vermilion shoreline.
The state had set aside $20 million for the land purchase and to turn it into campgrounds and trails. U.S. Steel wanted more, but state law prevented the state from offering more.
But today Pawlenty announced that U.S. Steel has agreed to sell the property to the state of Minnesota for $18 million, according to a news release from the governor's office. A $2.3 million gap will be treated as a donation.
The governor will ask legislators in the upcoming session to remove the cap imposed on the deal two years ago.
Residents have varying opinions about the idea of a state park on Lake Vermilion.
"I have mixed feelings myself," said Dave Schaeffer of Tower, a fishing guide on the lake. "I'm concerned about traffic, not so much on the lake, but on [Minnesota] Highway 169. They're talking three or four million people [visiting the park]. I can't imagine that much traffic on 169 on a Friday night."
Schaeffer also could see the benefit of year-round homes instead of a state park on the U.S. Steel property.
"It would be nice to have another 40 or 50 homes. Then maybe we might have a drug store in town. But as far as the lake and the scenery, I would like to see the park. If I had to vote. I'd take the park and drive to Virginia to buy my drugs," Schaeffer said.