DNR still negotiating for land for Lake Vermilion state park

St. Paul – It’s been more than a year since state officials made
known their interest in buying land on Lake Vermilion and turning
it into the state’s newest state park.

Since then, a task force has identified the activities and
services that could be provided at the park and the Legislature has
approved $20 million for the acquisition and development of the
land.

But there’s been no resolution to negotiations between the DNR
and U.S. Steel, the Pittsburgh-based company that owns the land the
state wants to buy. A main reason: It’s been difficult to get all
the key players together this summer, according to DNR Commissioner
Mark Holsten.

“We’ve made little progress in closing a deal,” he said. But he
noted that talks with U.S. Steel aren’t breaking down.

While acquiring the roughly 2,500 undeveloped acres is a high
priority for the state, “we have different priorities in our
dealings,” Holsten said.

The land is adjacent to the Soudan Underground Mine State Park
and officials hope to turn it into a “next-generation” park. The
expected cost to develop the state park is $30 million, according
to a DNR document.

While the $20 million that the Legislature appropriated in a
bonding bill is for acquisition and development, the amount that
will be used for each won’t be known until the DNR and U.S. Steel
agree to a price for the land. The company otherwise planned to
develop the land into a residential development.

While Holsten said state officials want to get a deal done, “We
are under no immediate time pressure for the money,” he said. “We
have that available to us.”

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