As Spirit Mountain's travails continue, Duluth Mayor Emily Larson has requested volunteers to serve on a task force assigned to explore all available options to put the recreation area back on a firm financial footing.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and financial hardships, Spirit Mountain remains closed and is not expected to resume operations until the next ski season begins.

Duluth city councilors Arik Forsman and Janet Kennedy have been tapped to co-chair the task force, but Larson seeks another seven to nine members to serve on the body. The city began accepting task force applications Wednesday and will continue to do so until July 8.

Larson expects to receive the task force's recommendations before the end of the year and said she is eager to hear them.

"We intend to look at all options, inclusive of contracting out for services, long-term leases for portions of the property, and even potentially the sale of certain portions of the property, understanding that some of those options are complicated quite a bit by the federal dollars we used to acquire much of the property way back when," said Jim Filby Williams, Duluth's director of parks, properties and libraries.

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Filby Williams said task force members will work in partnership with city and Spirit Mountain staff, as well as a consultant, to chart a new path for the recreation area.

The task force will be asked to explore a number of considerations, including business improvement strategies for Spirit Mountain, capital infrastructure, possible adjustments to tourism tax support and potential strategic partnerships.

"Anyone can apply to serve on this task force. But in the end, the city is especially interested in individuals who have appreciable business expertise and/or who have a strong connection to Spirit of one kind or another," Filby Williams said.

Applications are available at duluthmn.gov under the "Boards and Commissions" link.