Bob Haase’s Another Can of Worms

Commercial Development of Lakeside Park

Many of you probably remember the discussion and planning of opening up Lakeside Park to commercial development of a convention center and marina a few years ago.  It was put on a public referendum and was defeated.  The people were not against the building of a convention center and possible marina, but they did not want to use park land that was there for the public to use.  Once that land was used for commercial purposes the people would lose their rights to that property for ever.

Lakeside park is one of the best city parks in the state of Wisconsin and provides areas through the channels for kids and senior citizens to fish, and areas for families to enjoy spending time outdoors with access to Lake Winnebago. With the dredging of the channels and the installation of handicapped fishing piers and underwater habitat it will become one of the best family oriented fishing areas in the state and will attract many visitors.

I understand that the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee was recently formed by the city to look at commercial development of Lakeside Park.  If the city is interested in the development of a convention center and other commercial ventures, I think they should include any privately owned lands as well and not just Lakeside Park.

I am not against the commercial development of a convention center in Fond du Lac or Fond du Lac area.  I think it should have been done a long time ago, but on privately owned lands.  Over the last few years various properties have gone on the market and were sold for private housing developments.  Some of these might have been suitable for a convention center, but that apparently was not in the plans at the time.  Places such as the old Chaparral property along highway 45 might be a good spot but would not provide good water access for large boats.  Even though it would be a benefit to have large boat access, the majority of people using a convention center would come by car.  Even though the property is not within the Fond du Lac city limits, the city would benefit from such a development.

The residents of Fond du Lac should be the ones to determine the use of Lakeside Park and the possible sale of park property for commercial development.  Maybe it is time for another referendum to see if people’s feelings have changed.  I know the committee is charged with the commercial development of Lakeside Park, but maybe it would be good to explore all options which would include the possible availability of privately owned properties as well.  Maybe planning should be done jointly by Fond du Lac, North Fond du Lac, and the County as all would benefit if there was such a development. 

What do organizations, corporations, and the potential users of  convention centers look for when deciding where to meet.  Is water access the main draw or is it other things like cost, the quality of facilities, food, and services,  number of people it can handle, centrally located in the state, or other reasons.

What do you think?  How do you feel about selling off part of  Lakeside Park for commercial development?

Bob Haase is the host of “Outdoors Thursday” heard Thursday mornings at 9:10 a.m. on News-Talk 1450 KFIZ.