Kewaunee’s Harbor Master Plan in place for redeveloping waterfront. What comes next?
KEWAUNEE – Plans now are in place for the city to make its downtown waterfront more inviting to residents, tourists and businesses.
So, what comes next to make these plans happen?
Last month, the Kewaunee City Council approved a Harbor Master Plan that goes into greater detail for three specific areas mentioned in the Waterfront Plan approved by the council in May 2018: A renovated Beach Park and Selner Park on the Lake Michigan shore; the city campground across State 42 from the marina; and a planned silent sports park under the name River Landing on the Kewaunee River.
Five sites were identified as strong cases for major redevelopment in the Waterfront Plan, but only two carried extended details at that time: the Hamacheck/Klockner property at the end of Ellis Street, with a plan to turn it into a mixed-use area called Ellis Point; and a partially privately-owned, partially-public site on the north side of the Kewaunee for dining and recreation, tentatively called Fisherman's Point.
Autumn Linsmeier, community & economic development planner and grant writer for the city, said the Harbor Master Plan goes deeper into the Beach Park, campground and River Landing ideas.
"Our Waterfront Plan identified these five areas, but there was only time to (detail) two of them," Linsmeier said. "The Harbor Plan is essentially a continuation of the Waterfront Plan. We did an analysis to see where the gaps were in the (Waterfront) plan."
Linsmeier started working with the city in February, so she wasn't on hand when the Waterfront Plan was designed and approved. But she said the harbor plan doesn't deviate much from the outlines of the Waterfront Plan.
"The Waterfront Plan was a nice starting point," Linsmeier said. "We didn't change too much. We had more time to talk to people, to the committees (working on the plan). Now we have actual renderings and design charrettes (quick collaborative sessions among designers and interested parties that resulted in drawings, dome with the help of the University of Wisconsin-Extension design team)."
Both plans take into account the city's current attractions for residents and tourists, notably recreational fishing and boating, as well as possible attractions that aren't yet in place.
The harbor plan also prioritizes how five projects should be scheduled. First on the list is Harbor Park, which the city wants to make more attractive, especially given its close proximity to State 42.
Next is the proposed Beach Park, which would encompass Selner and Pioneer parks and the mostly undeveloped lakeshore beach on the south side of the harbor. The plan recommends adding outdoor showers for beachgoers, playground equipment and updated beach volleyball courts.
"This is a gem, and we're not capitalizing on it," Linsmeier said of the beach.
Selner Park, which overlooks the beach and would keep its own identity, would add a gazebo, lights, benches with solar lighting and other amenities.
"(Selner Park) is on a hill, it's one of the best views (of the lake) in the city, and we're not capitalizing on that," Linsmeier said. "We really want to make it a community space."
Priority three is updating the campground by adding landscaping and putting up better signs to make it more attractive; adding a fish cleaning station, refreshment building, weather shelter and cable/WiFi capabilities; and better defining the campsites.
Fourth is the city marina, with recommendations to build a new fish cleaning station and docks and add diesel fuel pumps, among others.
Fifth is River Landing, currently an undeveloped brownfield the city uses for storage. Besides considerable cleanup and beautification work, the proposed project calls for a bike, canoe and kayak rental kiosk; public restrooms; a pavilion with picnic tables; additional docks and a boat house; and moving the trail head of the Ahnapee Trail there, from its vague location a few blocks away.
Public fire pits, more benches or tables and general community spaces are common elements in most of the projects, which Linsmeier said is one way to encourage people to not just visit the sites but also use them. Making them more attractive includes not just beautifying them but also improving signage and accessibility with better, more obvious paths from the bluffs overlooking the beach.
"If you're driving down (State) 42, you don't even know (the beach) exists," Linsmeier said.
Another major common idea is creating walkways to connect the sites to each other and downtown, making it easier for people to get from one to the other while enjoying the outdoors. Linsmeier said part of that is to install public art sculptures along the way and commission artists to paint sections of the pavement, both to decorate the trails and possibly act as signage.
"One of the main themes throughout the harbor plan is connectivity between downtown and the trails," Linsmeier said. "One of the things we wanted to do is to connect public areas … We want to get people walking around, enjoying what there is to see."
There's a list of next steps which need to be taken. Linsmeier said the most immediate is to meet with various community members and groups, to let them know about the proposed projects and find out how to get them involved. She said, for example, "it would be great" if a volunteer support group formed to help maintain, promote and raise funds for the beach, similar to Friends of Crescent Beach in Algoma.
"I really want to make this a community project," Linsmeier said. "They had a very large say in this plan."
Committees have been formed to consider each of the proposed projects, and Linsmeier will meet with them and city officials as well. She'll also apply for grants to help finance the work, including matching grants that require the city to pay toward the project jointly with the grant dollars; the work on the harbor plan was funded by matching grants from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and federal Office of Coastal Management.
"I will be updating City Council on a monthly basis and writing grants," Linsmeier said. "If they're matching grants, those have to be approved by City Council before I can write them. In essence, I'm a coordinator, making sure everybody and everything is organized."
She said everyone she's talked with about the plans has been excited about them. Besides getting feedback, the overall goal is to keep moving the plans toward becoming reality, instead of being filed away.
"I just want to keep everyone updated because we don't want this plan to sit on a shelf," Linsmeier said. "We want to make this an active plan."
To read the full Harbor Master Plan or Waterfront Plan for Kewaunee, visit cityofkewaunee.org and click on the "City of Kewaunee Harbor Master Plan" or "Waterfront Plan" tabs.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Kewaunee's Harbor Master Plan in place for redeveloping waterfront. What comes next?