Will the lighthouse be taken down? If not, why aren’t we focused on the fact it is tipping?

The historic lighthouse isn’t going anywhere. This beacon will remain where it is and continue to serve as an icon in our community. To address the tipping-nature of the lighthouse, we need to look back at history. The lighthouse was built in 1933 and was not originally planned for public viewing; it was built for the beacon atop to guide boats in and out of the harbor. The pubic was not allowed inside at that time and it went into disrepair after 32 years of neglect. It was restored with an interior staircase for public use to get to the observation deck and opened to the public in 1968. The “tipping” is part of its storied history.

Why aren’t we waiting for the feasibility study to complete before we move forward on the pavilion?

At the March 25, 2020, City Council Meeting, a presentation was shared with members of the council. After review, the pavilion renovation (which had previously been through a feasibility study) was approved at this meeting by Council in a 6-1 vote. At that same time, Council approved the revised master plan which required a feasibility study for the rest of the amenities as proposed by the original Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee.

Council Meeting


Will city taxes go up?

No, taxes will not go because of this project. There is a strict levy limit law enacted by the state which restricts raising property taxes. Taxes can only be increased by the amount the city grows in the year prior. The City of Fond du Lac has been growing at a 1-2% rate for a few years which equates to very little room for property tax increases approved by council. None of this plan will be funded through a tax levy. The City’s portion would be borrowed and paid back over time. The City manages debt in a fashion that allows for funding of capital improvements and big projects (like the public safety training center and splash pad) without having to raise property taxes.

Why do we need another amphitheater when there is already one at Buttermilk Creek Park that is not fully used?

The amphitheater at Buttermilk Creek Park is a fantastic asset to the City of Fond du Lac. Through the original exploratory research, adding a second amphitheater at Lakeside Park rose to the top as an item of interest as gleaned from residents. This city is capable of supporting two amphitheaters based on market research.

What will the new pavilion be used for? Why can’t the restaurant go in there?

When the pavilion renovation is complete, this beautifully remodeled building will be used in the same manner it is today, with updates to plumbing, electrical, and aesthetics… all things to bringing safety and comfort to those who use it. Why not put the restaurant in the pavilion? To preserve the integrity of the structure and in response to the original proposal, putting a restaurant inside this building was found to not be in the best interest of this space. Please keep in mind, the current food purveyor will remain in this building.

Will there be boat slips for people to dock their boats? If so, how many?

Yes, through this project, additional boat slips will be incorporated into the harbor area. The exact number is not yet defined; this is also part of the feasibility research.

Aren’t there some state guidelines on how City Councils can’t just make decisions without a city vote if something is built on public property with tax dollars?

There are rules and regulations that govern our City Council. All those rules and regulations were followed and will continue to be followed, as things pertain to this project and those in the future.

Why are we not working on so many other empty places in the community instead of working on a beautiful place everyone already loves the way it is?

Although concerted efforts are continuous to infuse new life into a number of areas of our community, Lakeside Park remains a destination in Fond du Lac. Enhancing the water aspect of this location, like many other surrounding communities have done or continue to do, will open our community to additional commerce and activity, as well as develop this microcosm within our city as a place for all to remember the past, enjoy the present, and look to the future.

Why can’t the multipurpose building go on the west end of the park?

At first glance, this does seem like a reasonable location for the multipurpose building. However, through a number of land surveys and conversations with natural resource professionals, this location does not allow for the installation of boat docks and, with the sewage treatment center near, this is not a desirable location for dining.

What will the feasibility research actually look into?

The answer to this question is a rather long one. To view the full extent of the report, please visit the City of Fond du Lac’s website. In a nutshell, this research will include market and industry penetration; program and site considerations; and financial, operational, and funding.

Why is the multipurpose building going on Lighthouse Peninsula?

The Park Advisory Board provided the Supporters of the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee (SLPEC) with possible locations where the building could be located, and based upon the sites that were remaining, the site that offered the best opportunity for enhancing the amenities in the park is the peninsula site. This provides a convenient location for pedestrian, vehicle, and boat traffic while creating a public boardwalk and space along the shore of Lake Winnebago for all to enjoy. It also provides the best views for those who patronize the facility. Many other parts of the park are not available due to limitations set by the DNR and other utility hurdles.

Will the park be closed while construction ensues? How long will it take? When will construction be done?

Like any major construction project, there is the possibility that areas of Lakeside Park may temporarily close to ensure the safety of those building the project and guests to the park. The actual timeline for construction has not yet been determined. The timeline on the pavilion renovation indicates it is likely this will be complete by June, 2021.

Can these funds from the businesses be redirected to other projects? IE: storm sewer

No. The proposed funds are restricted dollars; therefore, they are to be used for this project only. These same investors regularly invest in a number of projects throughout our community, as well as the significant network of non-profits in our local communities.

What is placemaking? Why are these improvements critical in keeping our community competitive?

Placemaking is a multi-faceted approach to the planning, design, and management of public spaces. Placemaking capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, with the intention of creating public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being (i.e. Lakeside Park). Placemaking currently happens all over the world from the power positivity in regeneration in Brooklyn called Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass (DUMBO), to the Umbrella Sky Project in Agueda, Portugal where a restaurant sits at the corner of Franklin and W. Mohawk, to something more local such as the activities in Hamilton Park, including Hamilton Park Under the Stars (movie night) and Winterfest.

What competitive advantage is this giving the community?

Through the private investment in this project, this is proving our employers are vested in this community and want to see it grow and flourish. This extraordinary investment, like original investment in the lighthouse itself, will become a destination for locals and visitors.

What will green space look like after the addition of the multipurpose building and amphitheater?

The plan was created with significant thought to preserving as much green space and trees as possible. Under the current plan, approximately 96 percent of what you see today will remain. Those premium views we’ve become accustomed to will still be there.

Why are we now wanting to privatize our city park? How will the lease work with the restaurant?

Working in partnership with private industry is nothing new in our city, including Lakeside Park. Currently, the rides and concessions are operated via private business. This has been a practice dating back to the donation of materials to build our now beloved lighthouse. The lease with the bistro owner will be to operate the facility, not own it. It will be owned by a non-profit or separate entity that its sole purpose will be to benefit lakeside park. It will have an independent board to include the city manager and park director as well as some of the major donors to the overall parks project. The City will own the land.

Will ice shoves be an issue to the proposed restaurant location?

Ice shoves are considered in the feasibility research, as well as the in-depth research done by our architecture firm. In all research done, the position of the multipurpose building will not be impacted by ice shoves.

Why is the lighthouse closed now?

Given that the safety of our community members is paramount, the lighthouse is temporarily closed due the COVID-19 pandemic as it is challenging to maintain social distancing inside and at the top of the lighthouse.

Who is leading these efforts? Who are these private investors?

The primary group leading these efforts are the Supporters of the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee. Additionally, there are a number of individuals, businesses, and entities who also support this project. Those organizations in our community who are providing funding for this project include JF Ahern, National Exchange Bank & Trust, Mercury Marine, C.D. Smith Construction, Excel Engineering, Mid-States Aluminum, Holiday Automotive, Grande, Integrity Saw & Tool, Agnesian HeathCare (a member of SSM Health), Horicon Bank, Society Insurance, and more.

What official action was taken in 1982 regarding commercial development in Lakeside Park?

After a hotel/convention center was proposed on Frazier Point, a sizable number of City residents petitioned for a referendum to oppose it. The question was whether 22 acres near Frazier Point should be declared as “surplus” and sold for this purpose. The City Council held the referendum, which indicated that voters did not support this development.

If the multipurpose building is built on the lighthouse peninsula, what will the parking situation be?

Under the current concept, the now 60 parking spots would be reduced to 52. Also, part of the plan is the addition of more parking along the lake and west of the Lighthouse itself.

Did the City have a role in the telephone survey in July, 2020?

No, the City was not involved in the telephone survey process. It was initiated and paid for by Envision Greater Fond du Lac with the intent of conducting a statically-valid survey surrounding the attitudes of Fond du Lac residents toward a number of items as the pertained the Lakeside Park Master Plan.

Is the Promen Dr. Bridge being replaced because of the plan?

No, this project is unrelated to the Lakeside Park overall project. Through an engineering consultation in November 2016, it was determined this bridge has significant limitations and could pose an issue to the safety of those who drive through the park. This bridge repair was added to the DOTs bridge program, meaning 60 percent of the cost will be covered through state and federal dollars. This repair is slated for sometime in 2025.

Why are you allowing corporate interests to determine what we are doing in the park?

Corporate investors are focused on helping implement the ideas our community and the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee recommended in 2015. Their focus is on working collaboratively with the City to enhance the Lakeside Park experience, both now and in the future.

How will the City determine what private investors will be allowed to commercially develop?

A request for proposals will be provided and those interested in bidding can do so.

Who is paying for the pavilion?

The pavilion is a city facility; thus, the City is funding it.

Will city taxes pay for these enhancements at Lakeside Park?

City taxes will not pay for all components of the plan. Approximately $5 million is pledged by private investors. Preliminarily, it is planned for City funds to renovate the pavilion and share some costs for an amphitheater and ancillary projects (walkways, additional docks, bike/pedestrian bridge, etc.). Donations would be used to construct the multipurpose building and also to pay a share of the amphitheater and ancillary projects.

Why not use the private investment to focus on the Saputo property?

The Saputo property has the potential to spur economic growth in the Lakeside District. This entire area could be a dynamic showcase for economic growth, not only on the property itself, but also along the entire Scott Street and North Main Street area. The former Saputo property is available for private development and the City will be entertaining proposals for this property. The City will continue to control any potential development of this site.

Why do we have to do this project now?

This is a critical time for our city. Enhancing Lakeside Park according to the 2015 Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee recommendations will add to the quality of life for residents and will help improve attraction and retention efforts for local businesses. This positively impacts the economic viability of our community. The master plan will be set up with a phased approach, allowing for the facility to be built being mindful of budget, with sourcing from these private investors and public funding.

What happens to the current leases with private parties in the park – amusement rides, Fond du Lac Softball, and Yacht Club?

Similar to what has been done previously, each lease would remain in place and would be reviewed at the time of each renewal.

Will this be viable for years to come or will the City eventually have to spend money to sustain operations?

Due to increased use of the park, some increases in maintenance costs could be expected in the future.

What has City Council actually approved and what is still on the table?

City Council agreed on February 12, 2020 to pursue a rehabilitation project on the current pavilion instead of building a new one. They also agreed to a feasibility study and the general concepts of the revised master plan. However, none of the sites for other major components of the plan, or funding for them, have been approved.