The Silver Bay City Council last week unanimously voted that three Lake Superior beaches - Black Beach, Agate Beach and Peach Beach - will be included in a public park known as Black Beach Park.

The issue came up Monday when the council was discussing options for Minnesota Department of Transportation signs that will direct visitors to the beaches. City attorney Pete Morris pointed out that the city had never formally declared the area a public park, and he said he thought it would be good to do so before placing signs.

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The land is owned by Cliffs Natural Resources’ Northshore Mining. Despite being a popular sightseeing and gathering place, the beach technically had been off-limits to the public for years, and in 2014 “no trespassing” signs were made more visible. But after the city, DNR and Northshore Mining reached an agreement for allowing access, the beach was officially opened to the public last Memorial Day.

A $125,000 Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board grant was used to improve the site and make it welcoming to visitors and tourists.

The beach was blackened by the dumping of taconite tailings into Lake Superior by Reserve Mining, but time and nature have restored the beach’s health while it has retained its black color.

Bent Paddle

The council did not further discuss its 3-2 vote last month to ban Bent Paddle Brewing Co. products from the municipal liquor store because of the Duluth brewery’s membership in a coalition opposed to copper mining in the region - a vote that sparked controversy.

It also was unable to reconsider purchasing a new fire truck because two of the five council members were not present.

Councilors Dustin Goutermont and Richard DeRosier were absent and council policy requires a unanimous vote by all five members of the council on resolutions regarding the fire department, because three councilors serve on the department.

Councilor Carlene Perfetto voted earlier this month to block the purchase of the new fire truck, citing the council’s Bent Paddle vote and what she said was the council’s micromanagement and interference with department heads.