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PIBIO “Our Isolated Splendor”  by Peter Huston

Keep an eye out for the US Army Corp of Engineers. It just about that time again for a review on whether to build a permanent bridge across to South Bass again. We have joked in the past about the tunnel, (for you tunnel permit holders, please, please keep that to yourselves). Just remember what happened to Grosse Ile when they built that toll bridge…

As spring comes upon usIMG_6530, and before the floodgates of visitors opens, I wanted to take a minute to reflect on just how lucky we are to live in this bucolic tranquil isolated community. The Bass Islands are a place where you can enjoy the quiet, walk down the middle of the road quietly, away from the craziness that could be just a bridge away.

Our future may well include a bridge to the mainland. Not a “fictitious” tunnel, but a bridge like Grosse Isle has that creates a permanent year round connection to the mainland. Our county and state officials see the island commerce and want to leverage that success. A proposal to build a toll bridge bubbles to the surface every few years and it is circulating again. The idea is not new and the obstacles to building it might be difficult to overcome. But chances are good that 20 years from now you will drive to Put-in-Bay.

In the 1960’s an entrepreneur floated an idea of a monorail. I am not making this up. With the Disney World monorail creating such a tourism buzz in Florida, thiimagess adventurous businessperson saw the potential for building the same type of attraction to Put-in-Bay from Catawba Island.

He even proposed how this monorail would be able to bring supplies, allow island businesses to become light industrial manufacturers and attract tourists year round. That idea captured the fancy of many and ignited the idea that a toll bridge, even one with a drawbridge for freighter passage, would allow the county and or private entity to capitalize on the destination tourism we enjoy.

Island life is something to treasure, and it has captured the imagination of poets and musicians for centuries. If you want to get a sense of what that means for the Bass Islands you need to go to and get a copy of Robert Dodge’s 1975 book “Isolated Splendor”. Dodge allows you to savor the history of the island, the joys of our islands year round community and the pleasures of being unique.

For decades islanders have enjoyed the spoils of isolation. No worries about seasonal sickness, or worries about mainland politics. With our own water filtration plant and public management of utilities and transportation we control our own economy. Our elections are among friends that all know each other and realize that sooner or later everyone needs to be involved in running the island. We are the village raising the child!

While the idea of a bridge may on the surface sound attractive, going to the movies or shopping on the mainland whenever you want, what we give up is far greater. And the loss of island life, culture and the mystique of separation by choice will be gone forever. Just ask someone from Grosse Ile.


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