Barker’s Island in Superior looks different than it did a year ago.
Construction on the island’s public beach rearranged and added structures to help improve water quality and provide a better experience for swimmers.
More changes are in store for the next two summers, all designed to reduce stormwater runoff and protect water quality in the bay, and ultimately, Lake Superior.
Designs were recently completed for work at the Barker’s Island Marina and will be completed in 2020 for areas around Barker’s Island Inn. The projects will be paid for with several grants, and cooperation among the two businesses and Sea Grant programs in Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio, as well as the City of Superior, the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Ohio State University and the Wisconsin Marine Association.
Two projects at the marina will begin work this summer. Four others at the inn will begin in 2021. Here’s the rundown.
Barker’s Island Marina
A stormwater wetland will be created at Barker’s Island Marina in 2020 in an unused area along the coast to treat runoff from the service area and parking lot.
Currently, runoff from these areas flows into a ditch and the harbor. As part of this, the marina will be graded and repaved to direct water toward the stormwater wetland. They will also install a boat wash station.
“Copper anti-fouling paints are used on the bottoms of boats. At the end of the season when they’re power-washed, it just all sloughs off. You have some heavy metals potentially going into the water body. Boat wash stations are a really great thing. They capture the water rather than having it just drain directly into the lake," said Julia Noordyk, water quality and coastal communities outreach specialist with Wisconsin Sea Grant.
The second area is the parking lot at the marina where boats are stored for winter. The lot currently features a stormwater pond that doesn’t function properly. It sometimes floods, putting people and boats at risk.
The design team plans to install an underground pipe so the pond can drain properly, plus a forebay to capture sediment coming off the parking lot, which will improve water quality.
These activities are supported by a grant through the Great Lakes Protection Fund. As part of this project, a tool is being developed that will help marina owners and operators choose the best green infrastructure projects for their operations. Barker’s Island Marina is one of three marinas in the Great Lakes chosen to test the tool and install green infrastructure practices.
After completing the projects and adopting other best-management practices, Barker’s Island Marina will become a certified Clean Marina in the State of Wisconsin. The Clean Marina Program is designed to reduce pollution from marinas to protect Wisconsin’s waterways.
The marina sits on city land, so the City of Superior is also involved.
“There’s a lot of really good energy on Barker’s Island right now,” said Andrea Crouse, water resources program coordinator with the city. “We know that a lot of boaters . . . value programs like the Clean Marina Program. We expect this will be a draw for people who are out on sailboats or motorboats–knowing that they could dock at a place where there’s a clean marina certification and good practices is something that people feel good about.”
Barker’s Island Inn
Crouse said the city was recently awarded a grant for just under $500,000 from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Sustain Our Great Lakes Program to improve stormwater storage and reduce runoff impacts on Barker’s Island, including a “green” parking lot around Barker’s Island Inn.
Plans call for installing infiltration medians and pervious surfaces around the lot edges in 2021, planting native trees and shrubs, and using dark-sky-friendly lighting options.
Across the road from the lot is a sandy area used as a catamaran launch, however, it was never an official site. Crouse said the area is eroding, sending sediment into the harbor. Plans call for creating an official launch in 2021 and installing grass paving, which is a grid of plastic that can withstand the weight of vehicles and heavy foot traffic. This will stabilize the shoreline.
And that walking trail that currently dead-ends across from the inn? Crouse said it’s going to be expanded.
“Most people like walking in a loop, so we’re going to lengthen the trail to go around the hotel property and allow walkers to extend their hike,” she said.
The trail will be constructed with low-impact practices, possibly a porous asphalt.
The final area slated for work in 2021 are the tennis courts behind the inn. Crouse said the courts are in rough shape. The city will consult with the inn to see if they want to keep any of the courts.
“But we’ll be removing several of them, at least, and putting in a green playground so there will be more room for children and families that are using the space, as well as folks that are using the marina,” Crouse said.
The timing of the projects is fortunate, Crouse said.
“Knowing that these projects might be happening at a similar time will allow us to be efficient with city effort and funds so we can design these as much as possible in tandem," she said. "It’s a huge benefit to the public for us to be able to coordinate these projects.”