Updated: 08/05/2014 6:15 PM
Created: 08/05/2014 4:37 PM WDIO.com
By: Briggs LeSavage
A community group in Ashland, Wis. is working to raise money to beautify the Soo Line Ore Dock once the city is ready to open it back up to the public.
Even after the threat of demolition and a couple years of closure, the dock has withstood nearly 100 years of jetting out from Ashland's shores into Lake Superior.
Saturday, the group is holding a Rock the Dock fundraiser from 1 p.m. to 10 p.m. at the Neighborly Bar in Ashland. The money raised will help add things like park benches, picnic tables and planters to help beautify the space.
Pucky Nye helped plan the fundraiser and said there will be live music, food and drawings at the event. He said this is the fundraiser's second year and they hope to top the 2,500 people and $25,000 they raised in 2013.
"Anything that we can do to help beautify and to make it more pleasurable for the people who come to visit Ashland and for the residents themselves," Nye said.
But Nye said the money they are raising at the Neighborly Bar Saturday is separate from the dollars the city is putting toward the project.
Ashland Mayor Deb Lewis said the city's money is more about making the dock safe and accessible to the public.
About a month ago, the city acquired the dock from the Canadian National Railway and more than $3 million along with it. Lewis said the city just recently created an Ore Dock Charitable Trust Council to manage that money. However, because the Trust Council is so new, Lewis said they are not ready to make decisions about how to spend that money toward the dock.
Instead, Lewis said the Ashland City Council agreed to foot the bill for necessary projects that will prepare the dock for public use by an Aug. 26 public forum they hope to hold on the dock.
Lewis said those improvements include adding a navigation light to the end of the dock, fencing around the dock's "diamond" area, safety equipment and a smooth surface to walk on. Construction on those projects started Monday.
The public forum is meant to celebrate the dock and to hear from community members on ideas they have for the dock's future, Lewis said.
"The real challenge is going to be how do we balance the recreational needs of the community--everyone seems to agree that we want to use it for recreation-- with any commercial development that might come along," Lewis said.
Lewis said she's proclaiming Saturday "Rock the Dock Day" in Ashland to celebrate the group's efforts to raise money to beautify the space.
"You just have to lift up that kind of an effort, because that's the kind of civic engagement that we dream of happening where citizens come together and really work on a project like that," Lewis said. "The ore dock has been bringing people together, and it has the potential to do that even more."
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