Cold water thrown on Duluth-Superior island development

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We heard the news today that the Nature Conservancy has purchased a big island in the Duluth-Superior harbor, intending to preserve Clough island to benefit the environment and wildlife, keeping it from a major development project announced five years ago.

I reported on the Clough Island project back in 2005.

To me, the project was a real head scratcher.

Progress Land Co., of Savage, was proposing a $330-million development to include a hotel of up to 400 rooms; a retail development, up to 700 housing units, and a high end golf course.

To reach the island, they were talking about a bridge from Superior, a ferry and even a large-capacity gondola.

The project was so big it was predicted to generate up to $500 million a year for the Douglas County, Wisconsin, economy — and was even predicted to lower other residents’ property taxes.

Am I the only one not surprised this thing never happened?

The project ran into problems early on, like the city of Superior’s reluctance to build that bridge, and the city of Duluth unwilling to participate in a gondola project. It’s no surprise the “great recession” put the kibosh on the whole idea.

But I wondered who on Earth wanted to live on an island in the harbor. Do they have any idea how cold it is out there about nine months of the year?

I lived a couple of years just a breeze away from Superior’s waterfront. Yes, on a hot August afternoon that cool lake air creates a wonderfully cool oasis, providing the wind is blowing in from the lake. But just get a feel of the same thing in April, May or June.

Parkas come to mind, while inland neighbors lounge in their yards in shorts and short sleeves.

I recall sitting in my living room one June day with all the windows open, sucking in the comfort of a 70 degree day. I heard a noise from the dining room, went in to investigate and saw the blinds on the lakeside of my house blowing in.

Panic set in. The WIND HAD SHIFTED.

I knew I had little time, and quickly sped throughout the house closing windows. Sure enough, within minutes the outdoor temperature had plunged to 45 degrees, courtesy of Lake Superior.

I’ve heard it quipped Lake Superior consists of ice and melted ice. As wonderful as the lake is, it can be even more wonderful keeping a little distance between the lake and one’s self.

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