Camp Will Remain Under Arrowhead Center Management

Posted at: 01/22/2013 5:47 PM
Updated at: 01/22/2013 10:50 PM
By: Laurie Stribling

A long-time, Iron Range camp will not be seeing a change in management after the Saint Louis County Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday. Camp Esquagama, near Biwabik, is owned by the county, but has been managed by The Arrowhead Center for the last couple years.

The youth camp is more than 75 years old and is in need of repairs, which means taxpayer dollars. To fix these problems and manage the camp, two organizations drew up proposals for the board to vote on. The Arrowhead Center, currently managing the camp, made a plan costing $2.1 million and the Duluth Area YMCA formed a proposal costing about $500,000.

Roy Connaughton, CEO of The Arrowhead Center, said the high price reflects the extensive amount of repairs needed on the property.

"I have the advantage of, what other people don't have the advantage of, actually looking at the camp and what it's going to cost to repair it." Connaughton said. "It's 80 years old."

The two proposals had the board nearly split.

"My issue is the amount of investment the camp was going to need to be sustainable," Sixth District Commissioner Keith Nelson, who voted in favor of Arrowhead's proposal, said.

"I felt that for tax payers, the Y's proposal saved about 1.5 million dollars," Third District Commissioner Chris Dahlberg, who supported the YMCA's proposal, said.

When the board voted, Arrowhead's plan passed four to three.

Nelson, along with Seventh District Commissioner Steve Raukar, Fifth District Commissioner Pete Stauber and Fourth District Commissioner Mike Forsman, voted in favor of The Arrowhead Center's proposal.

Dahlberg, along with Second District Commissioner Steve O'Neil and First District Commissioner Frank Jewell, supported the YMCA's proposal.

"It's disappointing that they decided to go that route," President and CEO of the Duluth Area YMCA said. "I think based on what I've heard from the community, the community wanted to see it go to the YMCA."

That's because some people are not happy about an out-patient treatment center that The Arrowhead Center planned to put on the property. Connaughton said that idea is not set in stone, and if it does it happen, it won't be for several years down the road.

He also said it would be completely separate. Connaughton also wanted to clarify, regardless of a treatment facility, the youth camp will continue as is.