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Detroit Mountain to make do with less funding

The proposed plan for a new parking lot at the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area. SUBMITTED GRAPHIC

By Nathan Bowe / DL Newspapers

The Detroit Lakes City Council on Tuesday agreed to provide up to $425,000 for parking lot improvements at the new Detroit Mountain Recreation Area.

A story on Wednesday incorrectly put the amount at $550,000.

The Detroit Mountain group had originally requested $550,000, but had lowered its request to $425,000 at a city finance committee meeting Monday, according to City Finance Officer Pam Slifka.

“Some council members felt there were other projects in town we really need to be looking at as well,” she said. “They wanted to make sure we had money for them, too. It’s a very worthwhile project, but it will be eating up over a year and a half of Food and Beverage Tax income.”

About half the $425,000 will come directly from the Food and Beverage Tax fund, the rest will come from unspecified city reserve funds, and the Detroit Mountain group will pay interest on the loan at 3 percent for six years to hold those funds harmless.

The principal will be returned to those funds over six years as revenue from the city’s Food and Beverage Tax comes in.

Jeff Staley, general manager of Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc., said the group will do the best it can with the money available.

“After talking to some of the venders, they thought they could get the price down a little lower,” he said. “That was part of the reason for the reduction.”

The parking area will have room for about 330 cars and 10 buses, and will be landscaped and divided into two areas — the lower lot nearest the ski lodge will have space for about 60 vehicles, while the upper lot further away will have space for about 270 vehicles.

The difference in elevation is due to dirt work done at the site.

“We lowered the lodge so much when we started construction to take out that big depression where the lift was,” he said.

The lower lot is at the same elevation as the new lodge, while the upper lot is at the elevation of the old ski lodge, he said.

As it now stands, the smaller lot and one-half to three-quarters of the larger lot will be paved, and the rest of the larger lot will be surfaced with crushed concrete.

“We are going to pave as much as we possibly can,” Staley said.

The paving work is not expected to start until mid-summer, when lifts and lift bases have been installed, buildings, dirt-moving and other infrastructure work is complete and all heavy equipment has left the site.

Otherwise that heavy equipment would damage the new parking lot, he said.

Although City Attorney Charlie Ramstad said that Food and Beverage Tax funds can only be used for improvements on city-owned property, the Detroit Mountain property will not have to be conveyed to the city immediately, Staley said, “as long as the city has a binding agreement that that will happen.” The city is now in the process of finalizing that agreement to present to DMRA Inc., he added.

“We’ll be able to finish the project and then turn it over,” Staley said.

“We’ve been using direct donation funds,” he said. “After that slows up, the MMCDC tax credits will kick in.”

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