They were presented a petition that had been signed off by more than 4,000 residents. And despite that fact, and that much was made about what was at stake, the Fond du Lac City Council chose the path of least resistance. City Council made the decision to move ahead with the planned Lakeside Park Pavilion renovation, even though those who had signed the petition had asked that any planned construction be put on hold until after a feasibility study has been completed.
Council member Kay Miller was the lone wolf, bringing a motion to the table to hold off on any construction, until the study was completed, but the motion lacked any support. The main dispute with the Master Plan is the proposed multi-purpose complex set to be built on the Lighthouse Peninsula. Supporters of the structure say the building, which would house a bistro, mini history museum, and meeting space, would be a draw for visitors to the Fond du Lac area via mainly Lake Winnebago.
Opposition to that addition to the master plan comes in the way of residents who do not want the view of the Lighthouse to be altered in any manner. The opposition also does not want to see another private entity assume control of the bistro that would be located in the building. The Park Advisory Board had previously made the decision that would forward the entire Master Plan matter to public referendum. Council also decided to not take any action in regards to the referendum.
The discussion towards the end of the night revolved around what the costs would be associated with a special referendum, with City Clerk Margaret Hefter saying the costs could be as high as $30,000. City of Fond du Lac Public Works Director Jordan Skiff voiced concern that he wished the Park Board would have been more specific in their request in regards to the referendum. Council Member Alicia Hans, who also sits on the Advisory Park Board, said she would be in favor of not bringing the matter to referendum.
Based on the overall input from the council, the majority stated they would not be in favor of a referendum, with Ben Giles, Alicia Hans and Arletta Allen all voicing their opposition to any referendum. Councilwoman Donna Richards said she thought most people who signed the petition did so without having all the proper information, and fears that a referendum would only enhance the total number of people who would vote, without having all the correct information. A previous version of this article stated Councilman Dan Degner was in opposition of the referendum. Mr. Degner stated he would not support a November referendum, but was open to a referendum at some point, if council had all the correct information needed regarding all aspects of the Lakeside Park Master plan, to warrant adding the referendum to a future ballot.
City Manager Joe Moore did mention that the 2021 budget would not have any monies set aside for Lakeside Park projects, if the Master Plan project was sent to referendum in April 2021.