In 1988, twenty years ago, a group of civic minded people met to form the Beaver Island Property Owners Association. William Schneider was president and the board consisted of Harold Hart, Dorothy Prawat, Sue Welke, Owen Neils, Max Neils, Ruth Denny, Lois Williams and E.B. Lange. The Beaver Island Historical Society archives all the past newsletters. It is enlightening to see the topics that were taking center stage of life here during these early years of BIPOA. Issues being addressed by this board included the Wade-Trim Report with a proposed sewer system for the island at the cost of $1,300,000.00. Fears of large-off island corporate developers with bottomless bank accounts were identified as the biggest danger. The closure of the dump and the need for the Transfer Station, a Sand Dune Protection and Management Bill were presented at BIPOA’s first meeting. Dust control and movement of perimeter roads, back from Lake Michigan were issues.
A questionnaire was sent by the BIPOA board to property owners. E.B. Lange compiled a list of 150 replies. These are a few of the comments that you may find interesting.
“Preserve the natural beauty. We like the peace and quiet and unhurried pace. In other words, you have ‘time to smell the roses!”
“We like it [BI] for its remoteness, spaciousness, low population, history, serenity, isolation, security, solitude, tranquility, uncluttered landscape, primitiveness, outdoor recreation, hunting & fishing, and its unspoiled beauty of nature.”
“BI includes a great diversity of habitats and endangered species and great beauty. Many friends we know come to the island to escape the cares and pressures of the cities and to tune into nature.”
“I encourage year-round employment for island residents but I am very concerned about big developments and high taxes.”
“My property taxes, when I purchased my cottages, were less than $100… Now they run $500 and if my small cottage goes to $600, I’m selling out.”
“We are in our third generation of family coming to the island for summer vacations. We will probably continue this way.”
“We are planning to retire here [BI]. We will build on our property about there years before retirement—about 1995.”
“Many of our favorite areas are becoming inaccessible. I hope that enough of the low density and natural areas can remain open to the public. This is what draws tourist…the remoteness and lack of commercialization.”
“We would like development to proceed carefully, we don’t want to destroy the natural beauty of BI—the reason we came in the first place.”
“Over development on the island would eventually hurt even those it was intended to help. Beaver Island is unique, let’s not spoil it.”
“If only we could find a way to make a living on the island, we’d move there before retirement time!”
“Cottage industry and artist in residence are terrific ways to enhance and broaden the financial base of the island.”
“Improve the roads. We live nine miles out of town and can’t take the ‘washboard’ and dust. There is a need for sidewalks and better pavement in commercial areas and out to the Beaver Lodge.”
“In the twenty five years we have been going to Beaver Island it has changed and not all for the better. Let it become like Mackinac Island, and the fudgies take it over, and our property is for sale.”
“I did appreciate the survey. It set me to thinking about responsibility to the Islanders as well as ourselves.”
EB Lange goes on to say, “Whether we are Beaver Island residents, with lives centered here, or regular seasonal residents, we share the conviction that this is a rare and beautiful setting. There is a real need for new business on the island to expand and stabilize the economy year-round, and thus to help sustain the populations and businesses serving seasonal residents and visitors.
The need for economic development resulted in the Wade Trim Survey. Talk of development stimulated concern for preservation of island qualities which bring many people here again and again. This concern in turn resulted in the formation, in 1988, of the Beaver Island Property Owners Association.
New laws, resulting from a growing state and national concerns about waste management, pollution, the natural environment, dunes preservation, etc., are also pressuring the island for change.
There is a challenging, positive process underway seeking growth that will be considerate of what makes BI a very special place. How the island will change depends largely upon those who are willing to be part of the process and do the work. The major responsibility and effort naturally becomes the burden of residents whose lives are centered here. There is also talent and experience in island seasonal residents which, when offered and accepted, is rich in potential good for the future we all hope to enjoy Michigan’s Emerald Isle!” Thank you EB, there is still much work yet to be accomplished and in twenty more years, we will look back once more.
We would like to welcome our newest members and thank all of you who continue to support the efforts of our organization. Dues run from July through July. Without your continued commitment and generosity, we would not be the active organization that you see today.
Welcome to our newest members: Jonathan Cain and the Port of St. James Association.