Two Harbors, DNR plug away on safe harbor
By: LaReesa Sandretsky, Lake County News Chronicle
More than 20 years after the North Shore Harbors Plan was adopted by the North Shore Management Board, Two Harbors may finally get its safe harbor.
Slow progress is being made on a proposed $20 million small craft harbor to be located in Agate Bay. According to harbor coordinator Cheryl Erickson, it’s the last harbor to be built in a system along Lake Superior’s shores reaching from the northern limits of Duluth to the Canadian border.
“There’s a system of harbors to provide opportunities for boaters. Two Harbors has been waiting and waiting and it’s time,” she said.
Currently, Two Harbors has only a commercial harbor and a public access point. The nearest harbors for recreational boats are in Silver Bay and at the McQuade Road just north of Duluth. Erickson said adding a safe harbor where small recreational boats can tie up for a longer period is vital for Two Harbors, providing opportunities for boaters that the current structures don’t.
“It’s economic development, it’s cleaning up the waterfront, it’s Two Harbors’ front yard and it’s kind of an urban renewal. It will also provide recreational opportunities and safety for boaters,” Erickson said.
Mayor Randy Bolen has been a part of the harbor project since he was first elected to the city council nine years ago. While the land is owned by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, which is the project’s chief sponsor, Two Harbors has always been a partner.
“I’ve been involved in it pretty much since I’ve been involved in politics and it’s taken a few turns,” he said.
Earlier drafts included a marina, but that has been placed on the backburner as the state has shifted its focus to the completion of a safe harbor first. A marina could be added in the future.
“The most important thing is to get this hole dug,” Bolen said.
The DNR has spent over $5 million in preconstruction preparation on the land, including purchasing the land from developer Sam Cave and paying for environmental andarchaeological reviews and preliminary designs.
Project proponents hosted the Minnesota House bonding committee a few weeks ago to inform them about the project and to ask for continued support from the legislature. They appeared in front of the Senate bonding committee more recently at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
“I felt very, very good after that meeting,” Bolen said. “Over the last year specifically, it’s become apparent that it’s now or never. We’re guardedly optimistic that the stars are lined up for it.”
While the focus is currently on state money, Erickson said they hope to get federal funds as well. The final cost of the project and the timeline will be clearer when funding is secured, she said.
Bolen called it just a piece of an ongoing effort to revitalize and “tastefully develop” Two Harbors’ waterfront.
“We should be able to utilize all our assets. I feel strongly that we haven’t been able to do that,” he said. “This is part of the long-term vision of revitalizing our waterfront to capitalize on everything that it potentially can be.”