The state is pushing for a new salt storage facility for quicker snow clearing for State Highway 70 and 87 south, offering to pay for a new facility that would be shared by Burnett County and possibly Grantsburg, with discussions going back apparently quite a while between the village and the county, but now seeming to meet an impasse.

The proposed new satellite salt shed would be built in downtown Grantsburg, near the current Village Shop. 

The salt shed proposed by the county was presented to the Grantsburg Public Works Committee on Aug. 16, where village president Terry Kucera led the discussion with several other village officials and Burnett County Highway Commissioner, Mike Hoefs in attendance. 

The shed proposal has been in the discussion phase for nearly two years, although many of the players have changed. While there have been some agreed-to parts of the proposal, it seemed to hit a snag of sorts at the committee meeting, where several village concerns were raised, at least about the favored location near the village shop downtown, including about possible run-off into the nearby Wood River, as well as whether there was enough space for the village to share the location, and also whether it was the right spot, in general, in the light of future development.

According to Hoefs, the state Department of Transportation would pay the cost of the salt shed, up to $225,000, which would be approximately 53-feet-by-64-feet long, with a curved, fabric roof, allowing the county and village to store up to 1,000-tons of material, out of the elements. The county would allow the village to buy from the shed supply, and would mean that their own salt supply system would be in compliance with state environmental laws. 

“The state is pushing hard on this,” Hoefs told the village officials, who wondered about other location in the or near the village, possibly in a nearby town, but Hoefs was adamant that the location near Grantsburg was critical, with the hope that the shed be transferred in ownership to the county.

“I really think it makes sense for the village,” Hoefs stated, adding that the Town of Grantsburg could also use the shed for their own salt supply.

However, Hoefs balked at the possibility of offering a discount of sorts to either municipality, and said he would look into it, if the plan was approved.

Kucera was hesitant on supporting the downtown location, due to several concerns, including run-off, room to negotiate and store equipment, and the general feeling that the area may be better served for commercial or residential uses, down the road. 

He suggested the village look elsewhere, as well, but Hoefs said they want to be as close to the village as possible, due to added travel time to the county shalt shed in Siren. 

“We really wanted to be in Grantsburg, or within a mile or so,” Hoefs said.    

Several of the village committee members agreed that they were not in favor of the downtown location, and while village public works director Jerry Konobeck said he was generally in favor of adding the shed to the downtown public works location, he speculated about a basic question on that issue.

“I thought it (the county proposal) was a good location,” Konobeck said with a shrug, noting there as nothing the area currently. “But on the other side of the coin, should our own shop be there?”

But Hoefs was blunt that if the village did not agree to some sort of a shared location, the county may leave the village to do their own salt shed, at their own cost.

“I’ll be honest, without that option, our presence in Grantsburg would be gone,” Hoefs said. “It’s a level of service issue.”

“We’re trying to work with you, to find the best solution, but I think we’d agree that our downtown location is not the best,” Kucera said with a shrug.

Several days later, at the Burnett County Board of supervisors meeting, Hoefs outlined the issue to the board, with a few comments outlining some of the noted wariness, but not generally supporting the village concerns.

“We’re probably going to have to look somewhere else,” Supervisor Chuck Awe told the full board. “We’d been negotiating before, but then there wasn’t a concern that it would pollute the river.”

While the pollution issue was noted by the village, it appeared from the Aug. 16 meeting that the general value of downtown future development was not really weighed in the plan prior, and suggested that the future of the downtown village shop may not be set in stone, either.

Hoefs outlined his concerns to the county board, and said the village option is not completely gone. 

“I hope they will come back to this conversation,” Hoefs said, and several supervisors agreed that the issue needs to be resolved and that hopefully they can come to some agreement. 

“I think it’s important to village residents, also,” Supv. Awe added. 

Neither the county nor the village have taken any action, as of yet, to shut down negotiations, but it appears there is room for continued discussions or ideas to solve the stalemate.