Hovland—The one thing most everyone agrees upon is that they want to save the historic Hovland Dock, which once was the community’s only connection to the outside world. Boats, such as the famous steamer America, once arrived at the dock to deliver goods, mail, people and even livestock to the pioneer settlement. It is the last remaining pioneer-era commercial dock on Minnesota’s North Shore.
The details of just how to save the Hovland Dock are not agreed upon. An oversight committee called the North Shore Scenic Drive Council has proposed the site, which is owned by Cook County, be developed as a highway wayside with related amenities. At a public meeting held in Hovland on Oct. 28, a large turnout of local residents were less than enthused with the proposal, which they believe would direct more traffic on the primarily residential Chicago Bay Road and lead to safety concerns at the road’s two intersections with Hwy 61.
The meeting was held by the Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, which provides technical assistance to the Scenic Byways program. Andy Hubley, ARDC’s divisional director of regional planning, said some design work has been done for the site, which was shared at the meeting. He stressed the design is a first step in the process, which will have ample opportunities for public input and involvement. The top priority, he said, is to save the dock from falling into the lake.
“We are committed to assisting efforts to save the dock,” Hubley said. “But the chances of receiving grant funding to do so are better if the plan includes small improvements to the site.”
Those improvements could include a small gravel parking area, a parking pad for people with disabilities and a short trail to the dock, as well as a 400-square-foot shelter reflecting Hovland’s commercial fishing history. While a traffic analysis of the site hasn’t been done yet, Hubley doesn’t anticipate a great increase in visitors to the dock. An additional improvement would be the installation of a standard dry hydrant for the local volunteer fire department at the dock.
Hubley said no plan or funding request can move forward without the approval of the Cook County Board.