Fireworks damage, vandalism slows Wisconsin Point restoration project
A boardwalk was burned by fireworks over the Fourth of July, but people have also pulled down signs and fences and trampled new plantings.
Over the long Fourth of July weekend, a portion of the new boardwalk on Wisconsin Point in Superior was burned. The damage done to the boardwalk by the lighthouse appeared to have been caused by someone lighting fireworks on it, according to Superior Parks, Recreation and Forestry Director Linda Cadotte.
About five boards and runners were damaged. Cadotte estimated it would cost a few hundred dollars to repair the boardwalk, which was installed last fall as part of the roughly $1.4 million Wisconsin Point Restoration Project currently underway.
The burn on the boardwalk may be the most visible sign of damage by the public, but the lack of respect by people visiting Wisconsin Point this summer has made a bigger impact on the project.
Cadotte said people have been parking along the road where the Superior Police Department has placed "no parking" signs. They’ve been pulling down the signs, removing fences, walking over closed trails, trampling new vegetation and driving through work zones that are fenced off.
“I would say that continuing to pull in areas that are being worked on and having the contractor redo, resign, repost, re-fence is even more time consuming” than repairing the damaged boardwalk, Cadotte said.
For years, many visitors parked in the numerous small, sandy pullouts along Wisconsin Point Road. The restoration project will eliminate those options, permanently reducing the number of parking areas on the point. However, 177 parking spaces will be created in fewer areas.
“I get it; it’s an inconvenience,” Cadotte said. “Change is not easy for people to roll with. We’re just asking people not to park where it says no parking and not walk where it says trail closed. Not walking where it says vegetation freshly planted. Just being respectful.”
The city will also be ensuring that respect. Cadotte said that the Superior Police Department will be stepping up parking enforcement on Wisconsin Point. And the July 17 Public Works Committee agenda will include an item that would change city ordinance to make the entire Wisconsin Point Road no parking, except in designated areas.
“So being tricky and removing the sign and burning it in your bonfire, you’re still going to get a ticket,” Cadotte said.
If approved, the ordinance change would move on for full Council approval Aug. 6.
People are still invited to visit Wisconsin Point, but they're asked to use the designated areas or Schafer Beach. Barker’s Island is also open to swimmers. The beach restoration project there is nearly complete, Cadotte said, and the city is planning a ribbon cutting ceremony for July 16.
The Wisconsin Point Restoration Project is expected to wrap up in mid- to late-summer.
In addition to the boardwalk installation, the project will restore 48,000 square feet of sand dune habitat, 150 acres of sensitive wildlife habitat and 3,600 linear feet of shoreline. It is being funded through a $1.375 million Coastal Management Program grant as well as city funds.