Working on Environmental Issues Builds a New Sense of Community

Working on Environmental Issues Builds a New Sense of Community

By Adrienne Falcón

The goal of the Save Lighthouse Point Campaign is to preserve Lighthouse Point as a natural and public space for residents and visitors, now and for future generations. Lighthouse Point is located between Agate Bay and Burlington Bay in Two Harbors, Minnesota on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The area has been used by the community as a natural park and walking trail for years. It is also the site of one of the community’s most valuable historic, cultural, tourism, and ecological assets. But the Community did not come together in its appreciation of the Point until the past few years.

In December 2002, a developer bought extensive property in Two Harbors, including the majority of the Lighthouse Point. The developer has proposed to build up to 75 condominiums on a grassy portion of the point by the lake shore and has left open the possibility of additional hotel and restaurants on the forested ridge of the Point.

The Save Lighthouse Point Campaign is the most recent in-carnation of a three year effort to protect Lighthouse Point in Two Harbors on the shore of Lake Superior. Volunteer community members have been urging the city to buy the land and not to grant the developer the rezone he has requested. As you can perhaps imagine, over time, the group size has increased and decreased.

This summer the group again increased and brought together a wide range of people, politically conservative and liberal, of all ages, who share the simple fact that they want to preserve the point. Among the group members are active participants in Re p u b l i c a n a n d Democratic causes, college students, and retired citizens who have been active in Two Harbors civic life for over 50 years. New friendships have been formed. These new bonds can last not only beyond the battle over Lighthouse Point to other environmental issues in the community, but also to sharing people’s lives across different worlds. While saving Lighthouse Point remains critical to the group, involved members appreciate what coming together has brought them in different arenas of their lives.

This summer, the group received emergency support from GLAHNF through the Minnesota Environmental Partnership to engage the legal services of Jane Reyer to plead their case to the city. They also gathered 250 signatures, enough to require the City to hold a referendum on a proposed waterfront amendment plan, which the City then decided that they did not need to hold. Even so, the group persisted and in August of this year, the group had a major victory when the city denied the developer his rezone request and conditional use permit. The group knows that they have to keep working on permanently protecting Lighthouse Point by continuing to advocate for its protection and helping the City to raise the funds to purchase the Point. There are also potential legal battles ahead with the developer. A few weeks ago, almost forty people came together for a hike around the Point and a picnic to celebrate the recent denial of the rezone and conditional use permit, as well as the sense of community and new friendships that people have built through their efforts. It has been an exciting group to be a part of because it has brought together a variety of unlikely allies, crossing typical political boundaries, as people have come together to conserve what they see as the jewel of their community.

For more information, you can see the group’s website,www.savelighthousepoint.org.

 

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Images courtesy of Steven Huyser-Honig,
West Grand Boulevard Collaborative, & Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve.