Updated: June 11, 2021 06:29 PM
Created: June 11, 2021 06:24 PM
The Saxon Harbor Marina and Campground has come full circle after a deadly 2016 storm.
The storm damaged 85 boats and washed 30 campground sites off the face of the earth in its wake. It also claimed the life of beloved community member and Iron County board member, Mitch Koski.
Five years and over $14 million worth of repairs later, the Marina and Campground is officially reopen. A ceremony took place Friday to mark the occasion.
At the ceremony, a moment of silence was held for Koski. A plaque was also built near the Harbor to honor his memory.
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers was one of many leaders to make the trip out. He spoke of the importance of investing in infrastructure that will withstand storms for years to come.
“The Northern Wisconsin and Lake Superior region has been hammered by three 1 in 1,000 rainfall events since 2012, resulting in over $100 million of structure damage, so that’s why I am hopeful we’ve proposed some major infrastructure investments in reducing and preventing flooding,” Evers said.
Congressman Tom Tiffany and U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin also attended the event to show their support for the project.
“We had to build back better, stronger and more resilient using these resources and that’s exactly what we did here,” Baldwin said.
Several improvements were made to make the Harbor more resilient to flooding. Jesse Fink, Landscape Architect and Project Manager for Smith Group, said the bridge over Oronto Creek was rebuilt higher and the campground was moved further from the lake to name a couple.
“One of the things we did is we looked at rerouting the bridge, so you’ll see now, the bridge goes across the creek at an angle instead so that they can no longer get blocked by those heavy flows and then we were able to restore all the banks of the marina and put the slips back in and then we finally finished the campground reconstruction last fall,” Fink said.
The entire project cost $14.6 million. Eric Peterson, Iron County Forestry and Parks Supervisor, said half of that money will come from FEMA. He is hopeful the investment will pay off for years to come.
“Iron County has the only county run marina on one of the Great Lakes in Wisconsin. It’s not uncommon on a busy weekend to have 1,000 people come through here—whether they’re using the marina or the campground or just coming down to enjoy the lake and of course all of those people bring tourism dollars to the economy,” Peterson said.
One other benefit of all the work put into the Saxon Harbor Marina and Campground is that it is now certified as a ‘Wisconsin Clean Marina’—meaning it will work to prevent pollution and protect wildlife and public health.