It’s not an easy conversation for an old paper mill town. Even though Voyageurs National Park lies just east of International Falls, residents have been slow to warm to the notion of boosting tourism.
Some of that stems from resentment over the creation of the park. Geology is another factor.
Bedrock at the surface makes it difficult for homes and resorts to handle sewage with septic systems. International Falls has a sewage treatment plant with the capacity to handle more waste water but the challenge is to get it to the plant. A line runs six miles east along Highway 11 to Jackfish Bay, but the homes and resorts along the six miles beyond that to Rainy Lake have no access.
This morning, though, Gov. Dayton included in his list of bonding project proposals $8.6 million to extend that line to the end of the highway.
International Falls Mayor Bob Anderson said that would allow Sha Sha and other resorts at the end of the road to extend their seasons, even to the point of staying open all winter. Some would consider expanding, Anderson said today.
The bonding proposal goes to the Legislature, where final decisions aren’t likely until spring.