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Grant denied: Bad news for Dt. Mountain

The Detroit Mountain Recreation Area plan has hit a major bump in the ski slope.

The city of Detroit Lakes received a letter from the state at the end of December, making them aware that the project was denied the DNR Parks and Trail Grant and Legacy Grant funding. Those two grants made up $2.6 million of the proposed $6.2 million project.

"We advised the Detroit Mountain Group that we received that notice," City Administrator Bob Louiseau said. "I think they will be looking at what their options are at this point. I don't know exactly what they're going to do."

Those options include finding support from other potential supporters.

"While we're disappointed, it's not something we're surprised about," Mark Fritz said of not getting the grant. Fritz is a part of the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area group and has been speaking on behalf of the group since the beginning.

Soon after submitting the grant, the group found out that more than 800 applicants had asked for $46 million in funding for the $7 million available. Seven projects were funded.

The total cost of the Detroit Mountain project is estimated at $6.2 million. It would include not only reopening the downhill skiing, but adding tubing, cross-country skiing, hiking, camping, bike trails, bathroom facilities and a new lodge.

Last fall, the city approved contributing $300,000 to the project and also becoming the landowner if the project went through. With the city as landowner, the city applied for the grants and there would be no property taxes or debt service, making the project doable.

Though the city would be the landowner, another entity -- most likely DMRA, though the city has the final say on who -- would manage the property, similar to how the Detroit Country Club and the Legion Campground work.

In the proposal, the financing for the Detroit Mountain project would have consisted of $2.1 million from the DNR's park and trail grant, $500,000 from the Legacy fund, $989,000 in New Market Tax Credits and $2.3 from donations, which the DMRA had pledged to raise.

Since there now needs to be a Plan B, any new proposals that would involve the city would need to come before the council for approval again.

"What I would expect is sometime in February or March, we would get some feedback from them on where things are at, what they are planning to do," Louiseau said.

"My understanding is from Mark (Fritz), they'll be coming back to us with some information on what they plan to do, or if they plan to do anything further, in the next 30 to 45 days."

The group does have the option to apply for grant money again this year.

"Sometimes you can modify those grants and score better if you do this or don't do that," Louiseau said. "Perhaps if they get everything in order and come back with a different plan, maybe that changes stuff."

Fritz said he doesn't know if they will try for the grant again or not, but members have been talking to community members to see what support is still out there.

"There's a lot of options we may take. We've been really pleased with the response," he said. "We still think the project has a ton of merit and is very important to our community."

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.