My brother died today. As with most deaths, the loss is directed at those close friends and family. It is at those times that memories – good and bad – are replayed in one’s mind. On an individual level I believe we all want to think that our existence had some benefit but for the most part that can be hard to define.
As I was going through my history of dealing with my brother, I was reminded of the significance (both good and bad – depending upon your perspective) he had on the community of Birch Bay. I am convinced that what we have in Birch Bay today would not have happened without Richard Nelson. This is not to diminish the influence of the Vogt family or men like Keith Coleman, but to only consider Richard’s impact on the community.
In 1970, he needed to show me the piece of land (83 acres) he had bought in a place called Birch Bay. He had a vision to make money by building and selling lots for RVs. It was hard to be very impressed with the land but the location was stunning. By the end of 1974, he had built and sold almost 800 lots in a project called Birch Bay Leisure Park.
As a result of this success, he formed several partnerships to purchase additional acres in and around the area as part of his vision to ‘develop’ Birch Bay. During this time the land use rules were changing, but the real obstacle to any development of Birch Bay was a lack of a sanitary sewer system. The initial building permits for Birch Bay Village and Leisure Park were issued based upon septic
Building a municipal water and sewer system in an unincorporated area was not going to be easy and would be expensive. Financing was to be done by ULID assessment against the real estate that the sewer would benefit. Coleman committed the 1,100 acres of Birch Bay Village, the heritage families committed their properties, and Richard committed almost 600 acres to the project, The ULID assessment approached $3,000 per acre for properties that had been recently purchased in the $300 to $500 per acre range.
While Leisure Park, Beachwood, the Malibu area and Idelese condos can be directly attributed to Richard’s efforts, I believe it was the financing and direct support of the sewer system that reflect his legacy in Birch Bay. Without that, Birch Bay today would be significantly different. Thank you, Richard.
“Do you know what the three most exciting sounds in the world are? Anchor chains, airplane motors and train whistles.” – James Stewart in “It’s A Wonderful Life.”
For those who are “bothered” by train whistles (horns), be glad that you don’t live in Syria or Ukraine where you would be listening to bombs and artillery 24/7. If you think living in Blaine is stressful because of trains, try living in New York City.
I suggest that you celebrate the sound of trains as a sign of life. That you are fortunate to have food, clothing, shelter and a beautiful place to live.
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