January 31st, a sunny, windy, spring-feeling day, saw members of the media, Silver Bay city officials, community members, and special guests gather at the site of the new Boathouse Bay development, overlooking Lake Superior, which on that day brilliantly reflected the blue sky. Attendees could refresh themselves with fresh coffee and large chocolate chip cookies, compliments of Timber Coffee Company.
City Administrator Lana Fralich opened the ceremony, greeting the attendees and speaking on behalf of Mayor Wade LeBlanc, who was unable to attend the ceremony, and expressed his regrets for missing this event. Fralich, reading Mayor LeBlanc’s words, explained that Boathouse Bay is an approximately $25 million investment into Silver Bay, the largest development in the town since 1954. Mayor LeBlanc thanked many individuals and organizations for their support of the Boathouse Bay development. Among those thanked were Boathouse Bay Developer John Anderson, IRRRB Commissioner Ida Rukavina, Senator Grant Hauschild, and Representative Roger Skraba. Others thanked were IRRRB staff, Silver Bay City Council, Economic Development Authority Board, the Planning and Zoning Commission, Silver Bay’s legal team, the Boathouse Bay private and public development teams, the engineering team, Lake County delegation, Lake County staff, Silver Bay City Administrator Lana Fralich and city staff, Planning and Zoning Administrator Gary Thompson, and volunteer Economic Developer David Drown. Mayor LeBlanc also thanked the Northland Constructors of Duluth, who were awarded the bid to build Boathouse Bay, and he expressed appreciation for all the comments and concerns shared by community members that helped to shape Boathouse Bay.
Next to speak was IRRR Commissioner Ida Rukavina. She commented on the “beautiful, spring-like” weather for a groundbreaking ceremony and thanked Fralich for reading Mayor LeBlanc’s notes before beginning her talk. The IRRR’s mission is to “strengthen and diversify the region’s economy”, and supported Boathouse Bay with over $1 million in infrastructure grants, which went to support the water, sewer, roads, site work, and engineering related to needed infrastructure for the development. One thing the IRRR is committed to is increasing housing in the region, and Rukavina added that a diversity of housing needs are present – from single family homes to senior homes. Boathouse Bay will support housing and tourism, making Silver Bay an ideal place to live, work, play, and invest. She’s excited to see this project completed.
After Rukavina spoke, Minnesota Senator Grant Hauschild took the microphone after adjusting it to accommodate his significantly taller height than the speakers before him. Senator Hauschild then encouraged attendees to take a good look at the lake, calling Silver Bay the “epicenter of that beauty”. He says he takes every chance he has in St. Paul to highlight the North Shore. Senator Hauschild then recapped the past year of what he, Representative Skraba, and others did for the North Shore, from gaining the unemployment extension for the mine, to getting the Gitchi Gami trail funding, to launching the Northland Strong initiative. The “number one issue” he hears about is housing, and he recalls hearing that many people wished to live on the North Shore, but were unable to find housing and childcare. “The more housing we have in our communities, the better it’s going to be, not only for housing prices for everybody, but it’s going to increase our property tax base, it’s going to allow taxes to be lower for everybody else, and it’s going to fund the core services we rely on.”
Minnesota Representative Roger Skraba lowered the microphone before beginning his speech. He, like Senator Hauschild, cited the lake view as a huge selling point. Representative Skraba has worked on developments in the past, including Three Bays on Lake Vermillion, which was initially planned as a development and became a state park. “The nice thing about being last,” Skraba said, “Everyone talks about what I’m going to talk about, so I agree with what everyone says. It’s a big deal — housing is.” He also acknowledged that permitting slows everything down, and wished for there to be a faster permitting system. “We recognize the fact that the people developing and building–the owners, they don’t want to degrade anything.” Last summer Skraba had the opportunity to see all the land dedicated to Boathouse Bay. “This is something everyone should be proud of.”
Boathouse Bay Developer John Anderson was last to speak. Anderson cited advice his father once gave him. “There’s three things to public speaking. One, be short. Two, be sincere. Three, be seated.” Anderson thanked those involved in Boathouse Bay and those who supported him. His first thanks went to his wife – “She thinks I take crazy pills once in a while, but she’s been there, been the support I needed to have for this project.” Anderson also extended thanks to individuals and groups who aided the project, including Lana Fralich – “When Lana talks, people better be listening” – and David Drown – “He doesn’t bring problems, he brings solutions”, among others. Anderson also cited four tenants of Rotary that he thinks applies to business. “The first tenant is, ‘Is it the truth?’ The second one is, ‘Is it fair to all involved?’ The third is, ‘Will it build better friendships and goodwill?’, and the fourth, ‘Will it be beneficial to all involved?’”
After the speakers were finished, hard hats were given to the significant persons in attendance, and photos were taken as unfrozen dirt was tossed in the air. A new chapter in the history of Silver Bay launched.