One more go-around (at least): County agrees open KML could help sale

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette file photo The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge will open once more under the county’s operation after the KML Board voted 4-1 last week to reopen the lodge for the 2018 season.

EAGLE RIVER — The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge Board voted to open the lodge for the 2018 season, but the vote was not unanimous. Board member Del Rajala said reopening the lodge was more of a risk of taxpayers’ money than the board should take.

“That Mountain Lodge was created at a time when work was needed,” Rajala said, “using federal money and tax money (that) was made available.”

He went on to say the lodge should have been sold into private ownership years ago.

“But now we’re paying for the sins of the past,” Rajala said. “That should be corrected.”

Rajala said operating just the golf course would not diminish security on the grounds.

“That place at night time is going to be no more secure than when we have guests there, with no employees on the facilities,” he said. “I’m really surprised that it’s using our tax money, and mind you, we’ve had several pay adjustments in this county, we’ve used up the extra money from the closing of the jail. We don’t have that much money to play with. It’s not our money to play with.”

Don Piche, the board’s chairman, took a different position, saying if the lodge ran from July 1 through the end of September on the same model it ran during the 2017 season, he believed the county would get most of the invested money back.

“If we completely close it, or just run the golf course, that’s going to be a sure loser, said Piche. “By doing it that way, at least we will be able to recoup most of our money that we spend on it this winter and through the sumer.”

Piche added that running it from July 1 through the end of September is when the facility would be profitable.

Board member Bob DeMarois discussed the economic benefit to the surrounding area.

“My opinion is that if the Mountain Lodge is not operating,” DeMarois said, “it’s going to greatly hinder our ability to sell it. I think another point is there is the economic spinoff from it to other local businesses. My opinion is to try to keep it running until we can find a buyer.”

The board voted to reopen the lodge, with Rajala the only dissenting vote, who felt the lodge should operate only the golf course.

The lodge, however, will be operated for a shorter time than the golf course, not opening until July.