Planning to enhance Father Baraga's Cross historic site continues

At the September meeting of the Town of Schroeder, Jim Norvell, champion of the Father Baraga’s Cross historic site and the Schroeder Township park adjacent to it, gave an update. Norvell travelled from his new home in Duluth to report on the grant-funded planning being done for the township park.  

Planned for the park is an open space by the lake with a picnic shelter set back from the lake.  A vegetation buffer between the park and the beach will absorb storm water and prevent erosion.  A handicap-accessible parking lot will be located near a pit toilet.  The site will have informational kiosks in several places, and the cross will have benches near it that are cohesive with the design of the cross.  The boat launch will remain.

One resident who lives along Father Baraga Road protested further development of what is already there.  She said the boat launch is not functional, the road would not accommodate increased activity, and it would need brushing and plowing.

Jim Norvell said they hope to address boat accessibility over the course of time.  Skip Lamb said this is a 20-year plan, and the township will be focusing on what can be done on its own land, even though the park plan includes enhancements to the cross area, owned by the Catholic Diocese of Duluth, and the river area, owned by Skip and Linda Lamb.

Regarding the road leading to the park, which has several private properties along it, Bill McKeever said, “It’s a town road.”

Public meetings have been held on enhancement of the park, with notices in the paper and on WTIP Radio, said township supervisor Tina McKeever.  It has been discussed at township annual meetings as well.

The property owner said a lot of people are out of the area when the first half of the annual meeting is held in March.  Tina McKeever responded by saying they can’t help whether people are in town at that time.

Bill McKeever agreed that the boat ramp is not good for anything except canoes and kayaks but that it’s great for them because they don’t have to worry about getting in the way of bigger boats in Taconite Harbor. 

The property owner opposing the plans said some people prefer the park in a more wild state.  “I think it’s a very elaborate idea and I don’t think it belongs here,” she said.

Skip Lamb, on the planning task force, said they are staying within the original footprint of the park and simply enhancing what’s already there.

The next step in the planning process will be to hold more public meetings.  These will be noticed at Temperance Traders and the post office, in the Cook County News-Herald, and on WTIP Radio.  Drawings of the proposed plan can be viewed at the town hall.