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LETTER: Protect the public's stake in Barker's Island

To The Telegram: I was affiliated with the Superior-Douglas County Development Association when it originally proposed a marina on Barker's Island. Without the state-federal funding channeled through the Wisconsin Coastal Management Council, it w...

To The Telegram:

I was affiliated with the Superior-Douglas County Development Association when it originally proposed a marina on Barker's Island. Without the state-federal funding channeled through the Wisconsin Coastal Management Council, it would not exist. I was Mayor Hagen's representative on the council.

The council was nothing more than a statewide coastal (Lakes Superior-Michigan) comprehensive planning committee. This was the time of high lake levels. Soil erosion, homes slipping down banks, flooding everywhere, exposed the mistakes of past and current land use. We had no enforcing power. Our recommendations could only be implemented by the local government's zoning process.

Barker's Island was unique and rare. Undeveloped, it required no zoning changes. Under public ownership, there would be no calls for compensation or complaints about constitutional rights. We saw it a demonstration project supporting our goals and objectives.

One of our goals was to prevent development on coastal shore lines that did not require access to water to function. A marina fits that. Residential housing does not -- unless you are a lighthouse-keeper. A manager of a marina that is a half mile from civilization does not.

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Another goal was to preserve public ownership of coastal property. Because public funds paid for the construction of the marina and hotel. They are owned by the city. If ever they fail, the land is still available for public use.

That was 30 some years ago. Time passes -- stuff happens. I just thought an understanding of how and why the island came to be would contribute to your decision making.

If you do sell, put a restrictive clause setting a time limit for expiration. The current mortgage market is shaking. You could end up with no houses, no tax dollars and no land.

Also, set an expiration date for the rezoning. If nothing is built, the zoning should revert to its current status.

You are creating a Park Point. I hope Park Point market values were checked when the sale price was determined.

What to do with the four acres the Piping Plover has abandoned -- to provide a free island experience -- walking, jogging, etc., or just leave it alone. It is harming no one -- unless you are a developer.

-- Marie A. Sladky,

Duluth

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