Lakeside Park has often been described as the crown jewel of the Fond du Lac community. The Park is enjoyed by thousands of residents and visitors throughout the year and is an ideal location for the dozens of special events and family get-togethers that are held there every year. In 2014, we asked ourselves, “Could we make it even better?” and “If so, how?”. And so the journey began…
In 2014, City Council formed the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee (LPEC) to function in an advisory capacity to the Council regarding utilization options for Lakeside Park, and to present its recommendations to the Council. The LPEC completed their review in 2015 and presented 27 recommendations for future Lakeside Park Developments.
In 2016, the Lakeside Park Master Plan was approved by City Council, with work to begin in 2017.
In 2017, 2018, and 2019, items from the masterplan were completed, with plans of a new Pavilion being built, along with an outdoor plaza, in 2020.
In the Fall of 2019, City Council was approached by the Supporters of Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee with concerns that the existing masterplan did not move the needle far enough towards the recommendations from the LPEC and requested a change in direction that would make Lakeside Park a true destination to bring visitors from outside the community. The new plans presented by the Supporters of Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee were approved in February 2020. The key components of the new plan included remodeling the existing Pavilion, building a new multipurpose facility, and adding an Amphitheater.
The Supporters are planning to contribute over 5 million dollars for the addition of the Multi-purpose building with a Restaurant by Lighthouse Point and an Amphitheatre on Oven Island. All of the multipurpose building by Lighthouse Point and a portion of the Amphitheatre would be paid for by this donation. The cost to the City would be some of the outside amenities such as parking lots, expanded docks, and new road renovations. The City would also contribute to the construction of the Amphitheatre at a shared cost with the Supporters group.
The Restaurant RFP
With plans being made to begin construction on the Multi-Purpose Building, Lakeside Forward is now seeking proposals for a restaurateur to operate the restaurant within the building. To review the request for proposals (RFP), please visit Lakeside Park Fond du Lac Restaurant RFP. The deadline to send proposals is Monday, May 3, 2021 at 3:00 p.m. central time.
The Multi-Purpose Building
The Multi-Purpose Building is intended to be a two-story building, positioned near the intersection of Lighthouse Drive and Promen Drive, that preserves the views of the lake. The building will inlcude:
- A two-story gallery space that will welcome visitors, as well as a space to display historical and other community-minded information and artifacts
- A 2,000 square-foot commuity space available to be rented for meetings, events, family funtions, educational programs, classes, and more; this space can also be used by the public as a place to relax and take in the views
- A year-round public restaurant with breath-taking views
- A public patio and second-story balcony (accessible by stairs and elevator)
- Year-round restrooms
- Outdoor walking paths that are accesible by all
The Ice Skating and Sports Venue
The enhancements to the park do not end with a restaurant. An ice skating rink and sports venue is also part of the package:
- Two high school sized basketball courts of 50’ x 84’
- Synthetic ice surface installed over courts in winter could be as large as 64’ x 100’
- Commercial-grade pole-mounted illumination
- Located near the Main Street Playground equipment, just North of the Park Office
- Small concession stand and 4-season restrooms adjacent to Park Office
The Ice Skating and Sports Venue project achieves all or part of four of the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee’s 27 recommendations.
In 1898 John Boyle donated a pavilion and bridge to the park. At the time, most of what we now know as Lakeside Park was either marshland or industrial sites. In 1922 a stucco pavilion was built to replace the Boyle structure. In the late 1920’s the improved acreage of Lakeside Park was increased from around 20 acres to over 100 through the creation of five islands using 300,000 cubic yards of fill from the lake bottom. It wasn’t until 1974 that the current park pavilion was built.
In 2017 (need fact check) the city was told the 1974 pavilion structure had outlived its usefulness. The city was to demolish that building and replace it with a new facility at a taxpayer cost of $3.2-million. A later evaluation of the 1974 pavilion revealed that the structure was sound and that it could be saved. One of the most highly visited spots in Lakeside Park since the 1800’s, the Lakeside Park Pavilion is getting the attention it deserves; undergoing a $1.5-million makeover. This project is being financed through CIP funds in the 2020 City of Fond du Lac budget.
As part of the Lakeside Park Enhancement plan, the extensive renovation and comprehensive landscape makeover began in 2020. This facility is estimated to reopen by Walleye Weekend 2021 and will continue to be a wonderful place for gatherings and events. The new space will include:
- ADA-compliant remodel with convenient access for all
- Year-round views of the lake through new floor-to-ceiling windows
- A gorgeous lakeside patio with extensive landscaping for summertime enjoyment
- Modern kitchen and bathroom facilities in each half of the building for convenient enjoyment of both spaces when there are two events at once
- Updated concession space with covered seating area provides views of the historic 120-year old bandstand
- Modern HVAC technology for year-round activity
The Remodeled Lakeside Park Pavilion project achieves all or part of four of the Lakeside Park Exploratory Committee’s 27 recommendations.