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Council to continue support of Detroit Mt.

DETROIT LAKES -- With the newly fallen snow covering Detroit Lakes, Mark Fritz pointed out how nice it would be to have Detroit Mountain up and running.

"Look at all that snow outside. It would be nice if we were open today," he said.

Fritz spoke to Detroit Lakes city officials Tuesday about the future of Detroit Mountain. After being denied grants through the DNR Parks and Trails and Legacy funds, organizers of the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area group came up with a plan B. And it looks to be working out well for them.

Originally, the estimated $6.2 million project that would turn the former ski hill into a four-season recreation destination with downhill and cross-country skiing, mountain biking, camping and more, had planned for $2.6 million in state grants.

The remainder of the cost would come from fundraising, New Market Tax credits and $300,000 from the City of Detroit Lakes.

Without the grant money though, Fritz said the group has taken the quest more regional and has gotten support throughout. They now have a significant amount of funds pledged to the project, and plan to raise the remaining monies left from the void of no grant. He did ask, though, that the city continue its support of $300,000.

When the council passed the resolution to take ownership of the land -- so there won't be any taxes as a governmental entity -- and contribute $300,000 to the project, it was contingent on the group receiving the DNR grant.

Tuesday night, the council passed a new resolution to keep their $300,000 in support in place.

Fritz said that when the project pitch began, skiing was the No. 1 money maker. Now, with the growth in popularity of mountain biking, he said it's no longer a secondary draw to the property but just as important as skiing.

He stressed the importance of more activities for kids, healthy living and the economic development the mountain can bring to the area and its residents.

During discussion with the city, Alderman Ron Zeman said he previously supported the city contributing $300,000 because of the potential grant but without the grant, he said he's concerned that the city will end up paying more.

"I think it's a great project but there's reality, too," he said.

Fritz said that the city would still only be contributing the $300,000 and the DMRA group would raise the money not secured through the grant.

The group has also agreed to be responsible for any shortfall in revenue for the first five years the mountain is open.

"Our intent is we're going forward and do this thing," Fritz said.

The city passed the new resolution to continue with the $300,000 in support.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.