Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee Explains Park Use Survey

Fond du Lac, WI – The Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee (LPEC) would like to thank our fellow residents who participated in our recent survey regarding their current usage and their opinions on potential future usage of Lakeside Park and Lakeside Park West. Approximately 3200 people completed the survey. This strong turnout is indicative of the fact that so many people in the community have a vested interest in the park. 

The committee would like the public to better understand the reasoning behind why we chose to extend the survey participation period.  The population of the City of Fond du Lac is made up of roughly 43,000 people.  Upon reviewing the initial demographics from the survey and comparing them to the actual population demographics, it was clear there were some demographic groups who were under-represented in the survey responses.  In an effort to make sure our survey was as inclusive as possible, the committee decided to take additional time to reach out to these under-represented groups to gather their opinions.  These targeted groups included our students (specifically those 17 and under), people residing in our community between 1-5 years or 6-15 years, several ethnic groups and male respondents.  During the last 2 weeks, roughly 1000 survey responses were received.  The majority, roughly 800, of these responses came from our middle school and high school students.  Overall, the committee wants the community to know these added 1000 responses did not change the overall results of the survey, but rather provides a stronger response base upon which to draw as the committee considers its recommendations. 

A summary of the survey results show respondents:

  • Want to build on and improve the kids’ activities and the family friendly nature of the park.
    • The playground, kid’s activities and the rides are popular
  • Want more events and festivals in the park.
    • Weekly bands/concerts/events and more festivals are desired
  • Want food at the park with the potential of a full-scale restaurant
    • When asked what changes people would like to see in the future, responses relating to food availability were the most frequently mentioned
  • Want access to rent boats/bikes/kayaks.
    • Current favorite activities noted include views of the water, boating and fishing
    • Future amenities desired include access to the water via a beach, a splash pad or a swimming area
  • Want to preserve historical areas and traditions associated with the park.
    • Comments were received saying “No changes to the park”, “No commercial development”
    • Current favorite activities include playground equipment (1st), kid’s activities (2nd), Walleye Weekend (3rd), walking (4th), rides (5th), views of the water (6th), lighthouse (7th) and Christmas lights (8th)
    • We need to remember all of these current favorite activities were new at one time, so we need to keep our minds open to new ideas as we look towards the future.
  • The main response chosen as to why people visit the park throughout the year was “Relaxing:  I enjoy nature and being outside”.

The committee reviewed two case studies which highlight the successes seen in La Crosse and Shorewood where these cities have invested in their parks and seen increases in public enjoyment in their parks.  In both cases, these cities successfully utilized public/private partnerships to bring added amenities to their parks which increased quality of life, park utilization and public safety. 

The LPEC truly values all of the feedback received through the survey.  The entire committee has reviewed the survey results.  These results provide great insight and direction for the committee as we move forward with our process to develop our recommendation for the City Council.

The charge of the LPEC is to explore, study and investigate all aspects of the past, continuing and potential utilization of Lakeside Park and to present a written report to the City Council that reflects recommendations from all stakeholders. “This task of identifying and analyzing how members of our community use and enjoy Lakeside Park, while asking how we can improve the park and the quality of life of in the future, is a daunting assignment,”  according to John Short, Chair, Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee.  “The dedication of committee members and the interest and engagement of community members has been a critical positive component of our process as we move forward.,”   he added.

Fond du Lac City Council created the LPEC to function in an advisory capacity regarding the utilization options for Lakeside Park and to present its recommendations to City Council in June 2015.  The LPEC has been appointed to explore the park’s utilization and to provide the Council and City residents with the information needed to guide future discussions regarding the utilization of the park.  The next meeting of the LPEC will be held Tuesday, March 24th, 6:00 p.m. at the Lakeside Park Pavilion.  The public is welcome to attend.