Letter to the Editor: Northern Exposure

Thanks for Myles Dannhausen’s “Dead Zone No More” article about the rebound and resurgence of Sister Bay published in last week’s Pulse.

While no municipality can serve as a blueprint for another, plenty of valuable takeaways were presented in this timely commentary:

  • Encourage, entice, and embrace community involvement. Make friends, not foes, by maximizing – not minimizing – input from local people and businesses;
  • Engage the public in the visioning process. A vision for any community’s future is the public’s domain, not government’s;
  • Expansive waterfront access is a key componentto growth;
  • Commercial lodging isn’t always the answer… sometimes it can be part of the problem;
  • Experiment and innovate – don’t be afraid to try something new and/or different;
  • Business buy-in is a must if a given town, village, or city is to succeed;
  • Maximize, don’t minimize, the brainstorming process;
  • Government should seek to be more permissive and less restrictive, as that’s included in the definition of “opportunity;” and
  • Always make room for the locals, who can create a healthy year-round community beyond a tourist destination.

“One thing we’ve learned is that development comes from the locals, not an outside developer who’s going to come in and save you,” stated one of Sister Bay’s trustees [Denise Bhirdo]. “Go down the line, and it’s locals who invested and innovated.”

Wise words, indeed, from our northern sister!


Bruce H. Joffe, Ph.D.

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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