City's loss is Bay View School's gain
The Duluth City Council is expected to approve a measure tonight that gives up city ownership of Bayview Forest Park near Proctor. But unlike the controversial selling of virgin Park Point land last year, this land transfer hasn't generated any p...
The Duluth City Council is expected to approve a measure tonight that gives up city ownership of Bayview Forest Park near Proctor.
But unlike the controversial selling of virgin Park Point land last year, this land transfer hasn't generated any protest.
That's because little will change if the 80 acres of forested land is given up so that it can become part of the Proctor School District's school forest program at Bay View Elementary School. The trees will remain standing, the area preserved. The public can still use the park's informal trails for hiking, bird watching and four-wheelers. And children can play there as they have for generations.
It anything, the park will get better with an improved trail system, signage, benches and maybe even a snowshoe park in winter, said Rob Marohn, a teacher and school forest coordinator.
"Right now, it's just a piece of land, but when we're done with it, it's going to be the school forest," he said. "It begins to become a place. ... People will come out and visit. We like people using it; that's what we're about."
Bay View Elementary School wants the park to expand its outdoor classroom, where students learn about the natural world and forest ecology.
The school currently uses a 40-acre parcel of former farmland behind the school. Bayview Forest Park is a 15-minute walk from the school.
The addition of Bayview Forest Park, along Skyline Parkway between U.S. Highway 2 and Vinland Street, provides a more diverse parcel for students to study, including a creek and forested hillside, Marohn said.
Duluth acquired half interest in the tax-forfeited land in 1943 from the state for use as a public park, forests and for recreation. The state retains half ownership. If a transfer is approved by the city council, the city's interest will be reconveyed back to the state, then conveyed to the Proctor School District.
Although Bay View Elementary School is in Duluth, it is part of the Proctor School District.
During a recent council meeting, the only concern voiced was from Councilor Tony Cuneo, who wanted to make sure the city could get the land back, at no cost to the city, if Proctor school officials ever decided the district no longer needed the land.
The city can.
"I wanted to make sure the trails and other public uses will still be available to the public," Cuneo said Sunday. "It's clearly been important public land for the city."