In an article printed in the Mesabi Daily News on July 15, 2019 as coverage of the July 9, 2019 Gilbert City Council meeting, the Gilbert Mayor, Karl Oberstar Jr. was quoted as saying “the old Sparta Beach should be platted out — there has been interest expressed on purchasing the area for home sites.”
The parcel of land that encompasses Sparta Beach is 2.4 acres with an estimated market value of $162,700 and one legal building site. Based on my professional experience in wetland classification I would say that this parcel likely classifies as 100% wetland.
Sparta Beach offers several attributes to beach goers that Lake Ore-Be-Gone Beach in Gilbert does not. Unlike Ore-Be-Gone it is sandy and shallow, without a sudden drop off and it does not have a boat dock. These features make it much safer for small children. Sparta Beach is also the destination landing beach of the historical, annual Ely Lake Beach to Beach swim during the 4th of July.
As a wetland, the vegetation and sandy lot at the beach serve as a filter for run-off that enters Ely Lake, Gilbert’s source of drinking water. Developing the beach parcel to an upland classification will send water towards the road and cause more than the minimal flooding events than we currently see on Differding Point.
In May 2007 Lake Ore-Be-Gone was down 6-8 feet, due to drought and pumping at the Laurentian taconite pit. This caused that beach to close and Sparta Beach was conveniently available to beach goers.. The water level of Lake Ore-Be-Gone is contingent on mining/pumping at the Laurentian Pit and this will continue to be the case.
I believe it is short sighted to suggest selling Sparta Beach for a one-time monetary gain, when the loss to the residents of Gilbert and the surrounding communities is so great.