Delayed Tettegouche State Park visitor center nears completionSince its groundbreaking in July 2012, staff and visitors alike have eagerly awaited the completion of the new Tettegouche State Park visitor center and rest area on the North Shore. The $7 million building, expected to open late last year, is yet unfinished — but the end is in sight.
By: Ken Vogel, Lake County News Chronicle
Since its groundbreaking in July 2012, staff and visitors alike have eagerly awaited the completion of the new Tettegouche State Park visitor center and rest area on the North Shore. The $7 million building, expected to open late last year, is yet unfinished — but the end is in sight.
The project is a collaborative venture of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Department of Transportation, with some additional funding from the Federal Highway Administration. The new, 11,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility along Minnesota Highway 61 near Silver Bay will replace will one that was built in 1986, when the park hosted considerably fewer visitors.
“The old site was built to serve about 10,000 to 15,000 visitors per year and was out of date. We are now at about 375,000 visitors per year,” park manager Phil Leversedge said, adding that he started working on a plan for the new visitor center in the late 1990s. He said the new facility will meet standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act and be more user-friendly, with larger interpretive displays and common areas with WiFi.
“We will have a large great room, a multipurpose room, a lakeside patio and an outdoor amphitheater. We want people to be able to come in and take time to plan their day while enhancing their overall interpretive learning capabilities,” he said.
Leversedge said the facility should be ready to be open its doors to the public by late March; a grand opening will be scheduled for summer.
As for delays in completing the project, Leversedge said crews faced unexpected challenges.
“This was a huge undertaking beginning with the road work that had to be done to Highway 61 to create a safe entrance and exit of the facility,” he said. “There were also various minor construction delays including some material supply issues.”
Jim French, vice president of product management for Black and Dew, the project’s general contractor, said the biggest challenge the company faced was last year’s uncooperative weather.
“It was very cold and very wet last spring, causing some delays,” he said, adding that while this was not a large-scale undertaking for Black and Dew, it was an important
project for the company.
“We took a lot of pride in this project knowing it will have a positive impact on the economy and the area for many years,” he said.
Ted Sexton, MnDOT’s principal engineer for the rest area portion of the project, said that although the construction went a little slower than expected, he has been pleased with the result.
“We demanded that it be done right, not just fast. This will be a very functional facility and will be a great asset to the North Shore,” he said.
The energy-efficient facility was constructed with a structurally insulated panel system, and green technology using eight-inch foam insulation sandwiched between two structural facings for the walls, with 12-inch foam panels for the ceilings. The facility also will boast LED lighting, Leversedge said, and a solar array will provide a good portion of the site’s electrical needs.