Affordable housing, transportation among biggest concerns for Superior residents
Community members had the opportunity Wednesday, July 14, to share their views as officials put together the city's 2020-2040 comprehensive plan.
Affordable housing stood out as one of the priorities for the city's future among the Superior residents who attended a listening session Wednesday, July 14, at Earth Rider Brewery's festival grounds.
About 30 people showed up under the big tent to share their thoughts as officials work on the city's 2020-2040 comprehensive plan. Community members had the opportunity to move from station to station to place stickers and push pins and drop beads into jars to weigh in on what the city’s future should look like for everything from desirable land uses to transportation.
“I know we need affordable housing,” said Tom Wondolkowski, a 30-year resident of the city. “We need market housing. I’m in the demographic … my wife and I have a beautiful home in East End. Put a lot of money into it. It was great when we were 30.”
Retired now, Wondolkowski said he is starting to see the challenges of owning a huge, two-story house.
Among the obstacles the city faces is the quality of housing, especially along the East Second Street corridor in Allouez and Itasca where houses line the state highway within feet of the roadway.
Wondolkowski said he can understand why people who live along the highway wouldn’t want to invest in homes that could easily be damaged by passing traffic, but it remains a challenge for the city that needs to be addressed.
Ashby Rawstern, executive director of Superior Vocations Center, would also like to see more affordable housing. She said finding a one bedroom apartment can be a real challenge because waiting lists are long.
“We’re building new apartments, but they’re not affordable,” Rawstern said. “So the housing is there, but people can’t afford to live there. We work with people with disabilities so housing can be a big issue. We’re actually taking on housing counseling … to identify barriers and try to assist them to find housing that suits them that they can afford to live in, whether they rent or own.”
However, she said transportation is another issue, and she and Sunja Bennett spent a fair amount of time learning about the Duluth Transit Authority’s plans to improve bus service in the Twin Ports. Officials from the DTA were on hand to answer questions that came up during the city’s comprehensive plan workshop.
“There’s been a lot of issues with the bus cutting off so early,” Rawstern said. “I know it’s impacted a lot of the people we serve. More stops and longer hours is a really good idea. I like the fact that they’re going to increase STRIDE availability to different areas.”
She said better access to transportation could benefit employment.
Bennett said she had concerns that changes in the bus routes could limit access for some.
“There’s pros and cons on both sides,” Bennett said.
Garner Moffat said the city did a great job organizing the workshop, but he would have liked to have seen more emphasis on green infrastructure and the challenges climate change poses for the community.
One of the things Moffat would like is for the city to adopt a Main Street Program, he said.
Wondolkowski, who hails from Brown Deer in the Milwaukee area, said there are things that Superior has done right that convinced him to settle here more than 30 years ago.
“Look at the great things: Barker’s Island,” Wondolkowski said “It’s gorgeous. We’ve got the geese that need to be taken care of, but I think what we did on Barker’s is just amazing, all the people down there. And now there’s Wisconsin Point.
"I’m not from here, but this is home," he said.