Survey identifies issues, opportunities for Superior's future

Nearly 500 people responded to help shape the 20-year plan for the city's development.

File: Tower Avenue Superior
Tower Avenue in Superior. (Jed Carlson / 2019 file / Telegram)

More affordable housing, small businesses, living-wage jobs and waterfront access in Superior could all be improved. Areas where the city should focus its efforts are the East End waterfront and North End, according to a survey of 497 people who live and work in Superior.

The survey was conducted to provide a vision for the steering committee that is working to update the city’s comprehensive plan.

The plan update will create a 20-year vision for Superior. It will serve as a guide for decisionmakers for community, physical, social and economic growth for at least the next decade. Goals for the plan are to encourage growth that supports community needs, provides efficient infrastructure, aids local economic development and defines specific actions to help the city achieve its goals for the next two decades.

The survey results guided the committee’s efforts to identify issues and opportunities to guide future development of the city.

Issues that rose to the top: affordable housing; transit and multimodal maintenance; existing housing conditions; lack of retail downtown; weather impacts on multimodal transportation; water quality and potential decline; lack of entertainment options; lack of living-wage jobs; and climate change impacts.


“One thought that I had was that people thought there was a real lack of entertainment in the community … I was thinking about the university being here,” said Brian Finstad, a real estate appraiser and plan commissioner. “It seems like people who work at the university and people who have gone to the university are very plugged into the university, and people outside of that are very disconnected from that.”

Finstad said it would be interesting if the University of Wisconsin-Superior had an off-campus presence such as a downtown theater because many people don’t attend performances on campus because they just don’t know where to go.

Opportunities included parks and trails; increasing waterfront access; integrating a neighborhood feel; expanding multimodal facilities; capitalizing on the outdoors; expanding broadband; and making transit more efficient.

“I was surprised how positive and forward-thinking the whole thing was,” Mayor Jim Paine said. He said people were providing vision and identifying things they would like to see, like more bike lanes.

Douglas County Board Chair Mark Liebaert said he was glad to see the survey showed some of the things the city and county are already working on are priorities for the people who filled out the survey.

“It was nice to know that the government was on the same page as most of the citizens, at least those who responded to the survey,” Liebart said. “I wasn’t surprised with what came up.”

However, committee members said there were still things they would have liked to have learn.

“I was really hoping to pull in more of the next generation and get feedback on what they wanted Superior to look like in the future,” said Jocelyn Skandel of Superior Water, Light and Power. She said she would have liked to have learned more from the perspectives of low-income people as well.


“I really want to hear more from 18- to 40-year-olds,” Councilor Jenny Van Sickle said. “Those are the folks … I think their perspective is really important though if we’re planning 20 years into the future.”

She said the survey included tangible ideas the city could begin working on right away.

“I was really happy to read that people were willing to dream big in this survey,” Van Sickle said.

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