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Extravagant $7.2 Million Goose Creek Rest Stop Wins Second Golden Turkey Award for Wasteful Spending
Curved glass and Brazilian wood help rest stop prevail over strong field of contenders
A highway rest stop that siphoned $7.2 million away from road and bridge funding won the second Golden Turkey Award, given by Center of the American Experiment. The Goose Creek rest stop received forty-four percent of the vote in a web-based contest that attracted almost 5,000 total votes.
The Golden Turkey Award is a light-hearted contest to bring attention to the budget and allow Minnesotans to weigh in on the silliest spending of the year. The inaugural winner was Gov. Walz’s still-empty $6.9 million morgue.
“Somebody thought it was a good idea to spend $7.2 million on curved glass and exotic Brazilian wood instead of road and bridges,” said John Hinderaker, President of Center of the American Experiment. “As long as politicians keep spending our money on wasteful projects like this luxurious rest stop, American Experiment will keep handing out Golden Turkeys.”
See it for yourself! Join John Hinderaker for a tour through Minnesota’s most expensive rest stop. You paid for it!
Click here to watch the press conference from the Goose Creek rest stop.
To draw attention to the Golden Turkey awards and the victorious Goose Creek rest stop, American Experiment purchased two billboards along Highway 35 to direct motorists to celebrate the award and let drivers know when to exit to experience this one-of-a-kind, silly, waste of tax dollars.
The nominees for the second Golden Turkey Award:
4th Place: Spirit Mountain Ski Hill
The City of Duluth was nominated for its ongoing financial support (and bailouts) of the Spirit Mountain ski hill. The taxpayer subsidy for the ski hill begins each year with $1.1 million from sales tax revenues. They’ve been losing money every year because — wait for it — fewer people are coming to ski. After a new chalet was built in 2013, the losses really piled up and led to additional bailouts of $235,000 in 2019 and $300,000 this January.
The Duluth News Tribune wrote an editorial half-heartedly defending the Spirit Mountain subsidies, calling the Golden Turkey nomination for Spirit Mountain a “notorious nod.” Stay tuned to this project because a committee tasked with fixing the financial problems just recommended spending another $23 million! If we build it, they will come.
3rd Place: Tree Top Trail at the Minnesota Zoo
It’s not bad enough that Minnesota is the only state to own and operate its own zoo. It’s not bad enough that for 34 years the Minnesota Zoo wasted money on a monorail system that saw ridership decline year after year because the train ran in a loop and provided little opportunity to interact with or even see the animals. The zoo finally gave up and shut down the monorail in 2013 and sold the trains in a garage sale.
But thanks to $13 million from the record-breaking 2020 bonding bill from the Minnesota
Legislature, the zoo is repurposing the 1.3-mile elevated track into the Tree Top Trail. The new walking trail will have the same disadvantages as the monorail — being above the animals with little chance to see them.
The Tree Top Trail is the zoo’s latest boondoggle and that’s why it made our Golden Turkey Award list.
Runner up: Chatfield Center for the Arts
After a very public veto of funding for the Chatfield Brass Band Music Library in 2008, this small town south of Rochester did get the last laugh from the 2020 legislature. The Chatfield Center for the Arts received $8.7 million to improve their facility — a huge amount of money for a town with fewer than 3,000 residents.
The Arts Center funding epitomizes the wasteful spending in this record-breaking, $1.9 billion borrowing bill. Over $161 million in the bill went for pork projects like skating rinks, community centers, theaters, museums, zoos, even a “salt shed.” The Chatfield Center for the Arts represented all of these wasteful projects on this year’s Golden Turkey Award list.
Winner: Goose Creek Rest Stop
The overwhelming winner of the second Golden Turkey Award goes to the Goose Creek Rest area with its curved glass, Brazilian Ipe wood, a modern play area and bathrooms fit for a fancy hotel.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation used $7.2 million of trunk highway funding (money that could have gone to roads and bridges) to refurbish the Goose Creek Rest Stop. No one can answer why they used taxpayer money for such a fancy design, and transportation officials are vowing never to let it happen again.
The rest stop is on Highway 35 on the way to Duluth from the Twin Cities. If you make the drive, watch for the American Experiment billboards erected to celebrate this great award and let drivers know when to exit to experience this one-of-a-kind, silly, waste of your tax dollars.