Council Votes 4-3 To Terminate Lakeside Forward Agreement; City Mgr. Says “Short-term, It Will Be Catastrophic”

The Wednesday night Fond du Lac City Council started with dozens of both supporters and those in opposition voicing their opinions on the current state of the Lakeside Park Alternative Master Plan.

It ended with Council voting 4-3 to terminate the existing Enhancement Agreement, and then following that up with a 7-0 vote to see if there are any opportunities to further explore conversations with the donor group.

All seven council members had the chance to speak numerous times throughout the night. Councilmember Arletta Allen said “I’m furious” with the whole situation.

Councilman Ben Giles spoke passionately numerous times, saying “It’s a sad day for Fond du Lac” and that the decision by the majority of the council will mean a donor base of local businesses that will “be miffed for 5, 10, even 15 years or longer.”

Council President Kay Miller said the current Council was “at a crossroads, we’ve been put into a very difficult position” but again questioned why a process that has worked before in regard to development in the city, was not followed in this project.

City Manager Joe Moore was asked by Giles to give an honest assessment of the situation, to which Moore replied “short term, this will be catastrophic. This will generate a negative impact within the community. The real question is, do you want a restaurant within Lakeside Park, and if so, where is that?”

It was thought that last weeks’ council session held at the Retlaw Hotel had provided some type of consensus, with three locations being approved by a majority of council, and then presented to Lakeside Forward, the donor group that has almost $6 million committed to offset costs of the project. Lakeside Forward objected to all three locations, but did offer to move the proposed building further west of the Lighthouse Peninsula.

The next steps could be clear or cloudy. And no one really knows which it will be. Council did reach a consensus to see if Lakeside Forward is willing to meet again, and see if common ground can be found.

Lakeside Forward could also decide to move forward with a lawsuit against the City for Breach of Contract, with cost estimates given Wednesday of up to $1.5 million. It was disclosed last week that Lakeside Forward has roughly $600,000 in product orders already related to the construction.

The contract has been terminated. Now, the proverbial ball is in LSF’s court, and the city of Fond du Lac and its residents will wait to see what they decide to do.