During a meeting Wednesday evening, the Fond du Lac City Council approved a resolution that authorizes an agreement to buy the Saputo Cheese facility on the corner of Main Street and Scott Street. The city has negotiated an agreement with an outside contractor, who will remove all of the equipment and auction it off – while the city razes the building to expand Lakeside Park. Councilman Ben Giles tells us that for him, it was an easy decision to make.
Giles points out that “it is abandoned and no cheese company can go in there because of the clause in them selling it. So at this point we have an option of letting it sit there for a couple years, having it be an eyesore – because nobody’s going to want to buy it and take all of the equipment out. We’re partnering with a company that’s going to take out the equipment and then let us basically level it to either use it for the park or use it for a private enterprise. There are so many things that we could use it for in the park, and we have a Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee that looked at some of these options and there are bountiful options.”
Giles adds that those options span from simple uses to more complicated ideas.
He says “you could make a garden there, you could make green space, you could put a concert venue – an amphitheater. There’s a lot of things in there that could make that park a lot nicer than it already is. I mean, it’s the crown jewel of our city, so if we’re going to continue to want to make improvements to the park, it’s a no-brainer to buy that property instead of the alternative of just having it sit there.”
Giles also tells us “I think in the grand scheme, if it’s $400,000 or $500,000 – I think that’s worth it for the next decades of enjoyment in that piece of land. I’m really excited and looking forward to what we’re going to do with it.”
Giles says he would rather see something done with the land now – rather than let the building sit there as an eyesore for the next several years.
City Manager Joe Moore also chimed in, calling the idea of buying a property with no specific future plans a bit “unusual.” He also mentioned that any major development on that site would not happen for a few years, as there is currently no budget for improvements at that location. But he adds that any decision for a major addition in that area would also be a long-range plan that would likely take that time either way.