Baldy, the proposed Olympic ski jump at Mount Frontenac, continues to make headway in Goodhue County. At the April 4 Goodhue County Board meeting, commissioners unanimously supported the project by approving two new items.
The board voted to change zoning to commercial recreational district from an agricultural district. The then board approved allowing a business to run within the district.
With these additions, Sunde Engineering, Prairie Island Indian Community and Friends of American Ski Jumping can now focus on creating a tubing hill, zip line, cross-country skiing and a 160-foot tower.
Located on a portion of Mount Frontenac Golf Course, the project will be built at 32420 Ski Road and consist of eight different parcels totaling 427 acres. More than 10 years ago, Mount Frontenac Ski Area operated on the site. The new Olympic ski jump is expected to attract 60,000 visitors from around the world each year.
While not entirely opposed to the project, neighbors had a chance during Tuesday's hearing to discuss their worries of noise, traffic and exposure of their land from the ski tower.
"This is one of the things that is really cool to have like 20 minutes away from you," said Amy Olson. "For those of us who will have the structure looming over of us for the rest of our lives, it is concerning."
Developers of the project noted that a balloon test will be done in the future for residents to witness what can be seen from their home.
"I do want to recognize the fact that through this process, we've had open houses and public hearings," said Dennis Egan, Red Wing resident who is working with developers on the project.
Egan mentioned his recent trip to Arizona to visit one resident wintering there who could not attend the meeting. "I think that demonstrates the level of concern and commitment that we have to the neighbors."
Those who work in the city emphasized the benefits the project may bring to the area.
"This is a very special time for us and you now have the power to make such a long lasting impact," said Megan Tsui, executive director of Red Wing Downtown Main Street. Tsui continued by addressing concerns neighbors of the project may have.
"Of course that means things would be changed and change can be difficult. We understand the concerns of the neighbors and residents in the area but we hope that they and this board will take into one consideration one very important item: this project is in friendly hands. It's being headed up by locals with a passion for the sport and the Prairie Island Indian Community that have a passion for the land and water in the area."
From this point, the project will continue working through its two planning phases.
"I think we still need to talk about that noise in phase two," County Board Chair Ron Allen said. "I think you're doing a good effort to mitigate and work with the neighbors, that's going to be good moving forward with phases one and two."