EVELETH — The Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board was united Thursday morning in support of higher education, public works, energy and economic development projects.Final tabulation: $3.65 million for education and jobs and $11.2 million in public/private investment that will create 42 new jobs, according to IRRRB officials.
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But when it came to continuing negotiations for a land sale that would put the agency in the speculation business, Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk of Cook broke ranks and voted no.
The board in June approved putting up to $250,000 into an escrow account and authorized Commissioner Tony Sertich to negotiate a purchase agreement for 730 acres close to Balkan, Buhl and Chisholm.
Agency officials have since entered into a purchase agreement with the property owner, contingent on an evaluation of the value of the land and its minerals.
A full appraisal, including mineral rights done by Global Minerals Engineering, put the fair market value of the land at $797,000, according to agency officials.
Sertich proposed that $547,000 be used from the Taconite Area Environmental Protection Fund to go with the $250,000 previously put in escrow to make the purchase.
But some board members were hesitant about the purchase.
DFL State Rep. Tom Anzelc of Balsam Township said he was “disappointed” with the mineral assessment. He would, however, later vote to move ahead with negotiations.
But Sen. Bakk was opposed to all elements of the transaction.
“Why buy mineral rights if there is such minimal value?” he asked.
He also said that if the agency owned the mineral rights and mining followed, the IRRRB would have to move part of the city of Chisholm.Possible IRRRB land deal questioned - Mesabi Daily News: Local