FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WFRV) – The redevelopment plan of Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac has always created chatter within the city and Local 5 got a chance to hear both sides of the topic.
‘Lakeside Forward’ is a project that’s been in the works for years and it’s an economic development project. The $10+ million project will help redevelop Lakeside Park. Some of the plans include a skating rink, more walking paths, boat docks, an amphitheater, and a multipurpose building.
“Instead of kind of being the joke of ‘well maybe some day Fond du Lac’, we wanted to change it to ‘well okay NOW Fond du Lac’!”, says Sadie Parafiniuk, President/CEO of ‘Envision Greater Fond du Lac’.
An opposition group called ‘Friends of Lakeside Park’ have issues with the placement of the project and what the money is being used for.
“Yes, a lot of that money is being donated but the city has to ante up an equal amount and that amount is $5.2 million. So, this is a $10 million project that we really think that there is much better places to invest that money”, says John Papenheim, member of ‘Friends of Lakeside Park’.
The multipurpose building is one of the most controversial parts of the plan in Lakeside Park. The building will have a community hall that will include a rentable room for special occasions, large public patios (main and upper levels), and a restaurant. The restaurant will have a view of Lake Winnebago as an option as customers dine.
Leaders of the project tell Local 5 the multipurpose building is an opportunity for families and citizens to make memories.
“If you don’t want to pack your own lunch and that you rather just go eat in the restaurant and have a beverage there. You can absolutely go into the restaurant , enjoy a really nice meal, a beverage, look out over the lake, enjoy the time so it’s a best of both worlds”, says Parafinuk.
The location of the multipurpose building is on the lighthouse peninsula but will not affect the lighthouse in anyway. The lighthouse will be staying in its original place. The location of the building has some people in the community upset.
“In our view a park is for recreation, a park is for open space, a park is some place to bring your family. To just get away from the very thing that is being proposed out there”, says Papenheim. “We don’t see those things fitting into a park”
Papenheim tells Local 5 that he would love to see the money being used towards Lakeside Park to improve Fond du Lac’s downtown area.
“There’s question here of what’s an appropriate place for that kind of development”, says Papenheim.
The experiences that the project would bring is something Parafinuk raves about for the community.
“Younger people and millennials are getting away from material things, they want experiences. So, this is a great way to invite people into our community to have them experience Fond du Lac”, says Parafiniuk.
The false information that gets spread around is what’s troubling for leaders of the project.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions that this just leads to more commercialization or privatization in the park. Not true. That this will take away the public slips in the Marina so that people in the city don’t have access. Not true. That this will tear down the light house. Not true”, says Parafiniuk.
One of biggest concerns for the opposition of the project is that they don’t feel like the city is listening to the citizens opinions.
“The citizens have been left out since day one”, says Papenheim.
If the project doesn’t go through, Parafiniuk tells Local 5 that it could have lasting effects for the city of Fond du Lac.
“This is going to have ramifications far beyond if a building is going to be in Lakeside Park. It’s going to be how do people view development in the city of Fond du Lac for generations”, Parafiniuk explains.
Maeghan Greeno, of Fond du Lac, is a mother and raising her kids in the community. She hopes the project goes forward for her kids and hope for the future.
“A lot of the developments are very family friendly, as well. The park already is family friendly. There’s a lot of great amenities in the park but that doesn’t mean we can’t add more improvements and really bring more of our community together in this beautiful space”, says Greeno.
To learn more about the Lakeside Park redevelopment project, visit the city of Fond du Lac’s website.