Giant's Ridge, Iron Range construction crews have high hopes from bonding bill

By KBJR News 1

April 6, 2014 Updated Apr 6, 2014 at 11:09 PM CDT

Biwabik, MN (NNCNOW.com) - Built in the early 80s, the Giants Ridge Ski Resort Chalet is still in better shape than the adjacent building that houses the resort's National Ski Patrol, locker room, and sports dorm.

Like the average deteriorating building, it's victim to a leaky roof, poor heating, and bad insulation.

They're problems that Ski Patrolman Moe Benda and his team are all–too–familiar with.

"During the middle of the winter we'll get a big leak that kind of drops right in here," continued Benda, pointing to a vent above the patients' beds.

Along with a leak in the middle of the space where injured patients lie, the building's old heating system is frequently fluctuating.

"They've got to be in here in a good temperature, and that can sometimes be a challenge," said Benda, "so we're looking forward to having a new facility where we can take care of folks."

The plan so far would involve tearing down the hub to make room for a new event center. That would also pave the way for a new Ski Patrol hut, and upgrades to the current chalet.

According to Commissioner Tony Sertich of the IRRRB, which owns the resort and two golf courses, the project's benefit would go far beyond improving the resort's image.

"It's going to have a $16 million economic impact just in the construction alone of it, and an $8 million economic impact every year moving forward," said Sertich. "So, this is reinvestment into Giant's Ridge."

Sertich says three of the biggest economic drivers within the Iron Range are the health care industry, hospitality, and construction.

However, he and other Range legislators add that construction sector unemployment in Northern Minnesota is often higher than the state average.

"There are a lot of construction jobs out there, waiting for us to get this bonding bill passed," said DFL State Representative Carly Melin, standing in the Range Regional Airport, in Hibbing in January.

"And so that's an important factor in improving our facilities in Northern Minnesota, but also getting people to work," said Sertich.

So far, Giants Ridge renovations have made it onto the House and Governor Dayton's bonding bill proposals.

Giants Ridge is asking for $5 million for the $10 million project to come from the state bonding bill, if passed.

The other half would come from area tax dollars.

Dave Anderson