Follow That Act, Willya Cassandra?

beachroadmap.jpgI don’t often get to drop bombs like Cassandra did yesterday. Not that she enjoyed posting that entry at all. Some may be wondering, “what bomb?” Believe me, it *was* a bomb to the Fin Family Moomintroll. What did it mean? Only that now, once and for all, the beach that we have had to ourselves for 80-plus years has been invaded. For real, up close and personal.

After many years of isolated beach/forest living, the first blow came in 1998 when the family donated some land to The Nature Conservancy, which turned around and sold it to would-be developer Conrad Ganzhorn. He wasted no time building “logging” roads, big 60-foot wide ones. Every single blasted governmental agency charged with looking after the wetlands looked the other way and whistled Dixie. Trees be damned. Wetlands be damned. Ganzhorn was gonna build big, paved roads and create a hundred-home development. Eventually, he bailed out and though part of the land has been developed, a large portion was recovered by Little Traverse Conservancy. They built a nature trail that has been dedicated to my late brother. Please don’t be angry at The Nature Conservancy. It’s a long story that I don’t have time to tell today and I believe they changed their practices based on our situation.

The next incursion was made by a person I won’t name — because I don’t know him — who bought a couple of inaccessible parcels on the Round Island/Cedar Point peninsula. He built another big “logging” road (or canal) on an easement that crossed Little-T wetland property. The DNR stopped work for a while but he was eventually allowed to complete the road and now has at least one homesite partially prepared on the site. We don’t know what his plans are.

And then there’s the land at the end of “our” beach. There’s an ancient lighthouse-keeper’s house down there and when I was a kid, there were two abandoned range lights. When I was a kid, that end of the beach was owned by a mysterious family named Doelle (pronounced Do-lee, long “o”). Old man Doelle bought the land well before I was born, not realizing there was no access. He took my grandfather to court a couple of times to try to gain access via extending our road. I believe he even threatened violence but don’t quote me. Grandroobly (my dad) knows that story a lot better than I do but he’s dead. The court ruled in Grandaddy’s (*my* grandaddy, that is) favor and Doelle accessed his land by boat or beach thereafter.

Eventually the Doelle family sold their land to Mr. Armstrong, the gentleman named in yesterday’s entry. He has owned the land for many years now and lives on another piece of shore property that he owns in the Birch Point area. The big “logging” road out onto the Round Island/Cedar Point peninsula is adjacent to Armstrong’s property or maybe crosses it, I can’t remember. From this road, it was easy for Armstrong to build his own access road.

What is he going to build? I don’t know. He told one neighbor “five condos.” Frankly, I don’t believe that. Another story I heard — third hand via a McNaughton friend — was “houses for his children.” I dunno.

What do I think? I’m not sure. I had a lot of demons to deal with this summer and I had to force myself to ignore rumors of a road at that end of the beach in order to save a few shreds of sanity. Mr. Armstrong has always been friendly to our family on a face to face basis. I think that he knows very well how much the beach and adjacent land means to the families who have lived there for generations. I wish he had been more forthright about the whole thing. I know he didn’t have to approach us with his plans but I wish he had done so anyway. Since he didn’t, I picture him sitting around gloating at the thought of me and Radical Betty encountering the road for the first time. Even though I know darn well that he doesn’t care a rat’s ass about what Radical Betty and I do or think. But we have to be neighbors and I want to have a cordial and respectful, if not friendly, relationship.

What I am really worried about is what will be built there. Condos? I doubt it. But people seem to need to build such trenormous dwellings these days. Got a piece of land? Build a structure to fill it up. Bathrooms? How about five? Kee-reist. I live in a small house. Sometimes I do wish it had just a little more space. A little bit bigger bathroom (yes, that’s singular) maybe? I don’t see the point of building McMansions on the Shores of Gitchee Gumee. Except maybe to get your house featured in Lake Superior Magazine. I hope that’s not what he builds. Keep it simple, Jack, and don’t make me be the “last child in the woods”.

That’s what’s on my mind today. Sorry if it was long and gloomy. I can handle the grief I already have inside me but this was just too much and I needed to share it. I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be back to blahgging about the usual trivialities. Snow, perhaps?

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