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Irvin Will Make a Comeback in the 2020 Season

Updated: June 06, 2019 07:06 PM

The William A. Irvin will be out for another full season of operation.

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That's what Chelly Townsend, Executive director of the DECC, said Thursday in a news conference update of the Irvin. 

Townsend didn't specify a date for the Irvin's return but she did confirm it will be sometime during this season.

Townsend said Fraser Shipyards had a busy season, which put the Irvin behind other projects. Also, a contract is still in the works with Fraser. Townsend said the vessel will make a comeback for the 2020 season. 

"Of course we are disappointed but we are also understand it's a really unusual project, just to move it out of the slip the way that we had to do it, that was very difficult and took time," Townsend said. "A lot of that just took time because we had to really negotiate different levels of painting and figure out how all of this would work into our budget."

The contract is expected to be finalized soon, but this means tourists and locals will miss another season of the Irvin.

The Irvin was moved from the Minnesota Slip to Fraser Shipyards in Superior last September so work could be done to the seawall and to the vessel. 

"Because the MPCA had the slip in mind for pollution remediation, we had to move the Irvin," Townsend said. "The MPCA had to go into the slip, they didn't want the seawall to continue to leak pollution. It was a joint effort with the City of Duluth and MPCA."

The project for the Irvin is being funded by a $504,000 grant from the Minnesota Historical Society, with a in-kind match from the DECC.

Related: Irvin Return Date Delayed, DECC Board and Fraser Negotiating Work Contract

Townsend said the public has been showing a lot of interest on the Irvin since it left the slip. The DECC has been getting phone calls from concerned citizens wanting to know the status of the project.

"It shows us that people really miss the Irvin, it really is an iconic piece for the city," Townsend said. "We really appreciate the public interest about the Irvin. We never thought that having it gone would open us up to so many questions. We've really enjoyed conversations with people about what's happening."

Townsend said the DECC will take a financial hit as the Irvin usually generates about $200,000 per year. 

For now, the plan is for Fraser to examine the vessel once its in the dry-dock to begin repairs. Repairs include blasting and coating the hull, the area below the waterline of the Irvin and the hatch crane, an opportunity the DECC didn't imagine they'd get in years.

"This is a one in a 30 year opportunity because we had to get it out of the slip. We took that opportunity to paint below the waterline," Townsend said.

Townsend said the return date depends on the scope of the work after Fraser's examination. The weather will also play a vital role in getting the Irvin back to the Minnesota slip.

Cleaning and preparation is required as well before it opens to the public for the 2020 season.

Copyright 2019 WDIO-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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