Bonding Bill

Someone please read this:
…and please explain to me why this is a good idea:
Spirit Mountain wants $3.4 million in state money for a new water-pumping system to use St. Louis River water instead of treated Duluth city water to make snow.

I grew up in Milwaukee, where nearly every business that sucked water from the Milwaukee River was later implicated in the environmental degredation of the river (by chemicals or by thermal loading).  Please explain why Spirit Mountain sucking water from the river is a good idea.  Please explain how it will be monitored and regulated.  And please explain how this $3.4 million dollars is of benefit to the state.

My only concern is that, if the bonding bill fails, then instead of the State being on the hook for this, the City or County (perhaps via Visit Duluth) will be pick up the costs.

Ramos, please, out of retirement!



about 11 years ago

I wondered about that one, too. What is the reason anyway. Is there some kind of problem with volume from the city line? I could be wrong, but I think the bonding request is itemized -- meaning that not every item on the list has to get funded for the package to get rejected or approved.


about 11 years ago

There are a couple of good reasons for getting water from St. Louis River for Spirit Mountain:
1.  Cheaper, obviously not in the short term, but Spirit Mountain would no longer use "expensive" treated city water to just turn around and make snow out of it.

2.  Copious amounts of water can be drawn from St. Louis Bay, thus allowing Spirit Mountain to run multiple guns simultaneously increasing its snow-making ability which will allow it to open sooner/maintain better snow coverage which would increase revenues. (i.e. Snocross in November which brings millions to the city each year.) The current water system was installed in 1970s and is inadequate.

How would this 3.4 million benefit the state? I think this blog post by a former Minnesota Representative will answer your questions about what a bonding bill is and what it does for Minnesotans.

For the record, Spirit Mountain is essentially a city entity and therefore it is the city of Duluth via Spirit Mountain that'd be "on the hook" for the 3.4 million tab. If it makes you feel better, consider it an investment, like the new chalet, that'll make the ski hill better and thus bring more people to the city. Which in the long run will boost our economy and pay for itself. In theory.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

1. What kinds of studies have been done about the impacts of the water intake directly from the river?

2.  Ugh.


about 11 years ago

If the state did approve a $3.4 million bond issue for Spirit Mountain, the city would not be on the hook for it; the state would. State bonds essentially amount to "free money" for cities, as the costs of paying them back are spread over every taxpayer in the state. Whatever partisan politics might divide us during the rest of the year, everyone seems to be able to agree on having a giant feeding frenzy around bonding time.

With that said, $3.4 million would not cover the entire cost of the pipeline. The last time I heard real numbers, the cost was estimated to be $6.4 million. To make up the difference, the city would likely issue capital improvement bonds on behalf of Spirit Mountain. This money, like the money to build the alpine coaster and the new chalet, the city would ultimately be responsible for.

Spirit Mountain would definitely ask for a greater share of the tourism tax to help pay back the bonds, as they have been asking for more tourism tax for the past several years. They currently receive $225,000 annually. They want $450,000.

Johnson Controls, a topic of recent conversation on PDD, is overseeing Spirit Mountain's master plan.

If I started attending Spirit Mountain's board meetings again, I can only imagine the joy they would feel.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

Just to be clear:  I understand the bonding bill process.  I simply presume that if we can't get the state to pay for it, someone will get the city or county to pay for it.


about 11 years ago

Spirit is what was drained out of me when I tried to ski there. Spirit Mt broke my spirit.

Does anyone know what kind of chemical agent will remove the shitty slime residue left by Johnson Controls?


about 11 years ago

I agree that an EIS should be done before pumping water from the river to make snow, at the same time making snow from treated water seems like a massive waste of treated water. If we're talking about strictly cost issues I'd think removing the cost of treating that much water would go into the saving-over-time column.

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