LETTER: Larger development on Barker's Island doesn't give city best bang for the buck

To the Telelgram: The homeowners here are BIHA, Barker's Island Homeowners Association. We support the low density development proposed by Barkers Island Development Corp. BIDC did all of the development here from the beginning. I have been to a ...

To the Telelgram:

The homeowners here are BIHA, Barker's Island Homeowners Association. We support the low density development proposed by Barkers Island Development Corp. BIDC did all of the development here from the beginning. I have been to a few of the meetings and last night the council voted for Mission Development who is proposing much higher density development on the remaining four acres. Traffic can already be a problem and putting 40-plus homes out here with two or more cars will really be something. One of the partners of BIDC is Jack Culley who operates Sailboats Inc. and has the lease operation from the city now for the whole marina and storage facility. He also lives here and is part of BIHA. He was proposing that BIDC would only develop the 1.66 of the four acres and leave the remaining for future storage, parking and buffer between the marina and housing.

The city already receives net $70,000 directly from the new storage building on the island for storage, a total of $400,000 per year for the lease, and Jack Culley was just beginning to build a case for one more, which would be another $70,000, and the only realistic place to put that building would have been on the city-owned remaining acres left after the 1.66 acres was developed. If the development ends up being 40 town homes at $200,000 that would be and $8 million development. Which would net about $240,000 in taxes of which the city only would receive about 34 percent.

If BIDC did this development it would be 12 homes with about the same tax revenue collected and the city would retain the adjacent acreage for future marina storage and parking. Which at least $ 70,000 net annually to the city coffers. This argument makes no sense financial sense to me. The BIDC development of $3.6 million -- about $100,000 property taxes with $34,000 to city -- added to the $70,000 direct to the city from new storage building totals $104,000 to the city. The Mission Development/Barker's Cove Development provides $164,000 in taxes, net to city of $56,000, or about half of BIDC proposal if one considers the revenue brought by a new storage building opportunity.

Further, Mission Development, now calling themselves Barker's Cove Development is made up by a contractor from southern Minnesota and the previous city planner, Marshall Weems. Marshall is a good guy whom I worked with long ago. He left Superior to do the same thing for the city of St. Cloud several years ago. He was involved with and participated in much development in the St Cloud area. I am sure they would do a decent job, however, the BIHA 28 families that live here now would prefer only 12 homes be built versus 40 town homes. Financially it makes sense for the benefit of the citizens of Superior and citizens of Barker's to do the lower density plan that BIDC has proposed.


You may notice or may have heard that there is a dislike/ jealousy factor and assumptions relative to haves and have nots. The average Joe that speaks up in Superior believes there is nothing but a bunch of rich folks living on Barker's and many of the city councilors act like they share this opinion as well. The people that live out here are truly a mix that could be found in any well-maintained neighborhood in Duluth or elsewhere in Superior. Many are retired and struggle each year to keep up with the taxes which average 3 percent of the value of the home. We have car salesman, accountants, business managers, an engineer, pharmaceutical sales person etc. and several retired folks. The dislike for the people that purchased their dream/retirement home on Barker's is truly based on unreal assumptions. It is not a have and have not situation as much as we ( BIHA ) have made choices long ago about a lifestyle and environment that we wanted to spend our future in and have focused our resources to allow us to make the decision to be here verses elsewhere. Some folks have been forced to leave their dream home and relocate to areas that have a more affordable tax situation.

A couple of issues not mentioned earlier was how the increased density can raise concern for fire safety, evacuation capability if there is a toxic or hazardous issue with the rail road which is just a couple hundred feet across the bay and of course, the little quaint, quiet community will be no more. Now even on many weekends through out the year traffic is backed up and it there is a congestion/parking issue in the current development with only 28 homes. If you drive down a typical city block in Superior or Duluth there are eight to 12 homes. If you drive the same distance around the BIHA there is 28 homeowners.

You add 40 plus town homes with another 80 to 160 cars, its a real problem. There was only one letter to the editor opposing the BIDC Development. Any how, we would all appreciate an editorial pointing out these overlooked or misunderstood economics would be extremely helpful. You would think that just the financial economics alone would have swayed the vote of the city council. You would think they would be mandated to do what is financially in the best interest of the citizens long-term as well as have some thought for those in the immediate surrounding area this higher density proposal affects. I am sure with your education and experience you might think of things I overlooked too. Your pen would be appreciated.

-- Ken LaBounty,


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