Concepts Taking Shape for Fish Creek Waterfront

Gibraltar’s vision for the future of the Kinsey property it acquired in 2021 is starting to take shape. 

Hundreds of residents and visitors got a look at three concept plans from Ayres Associates for the parcel at 4148 Main Street during a community input session July 29, and the Waterfront Steering Committee narrowed in on consensus ideas at its Aug. 7 meeting. 

Town administrator Travis Thyssen said public input provided clear direction on some aspects of the plan. People said they want to see the 1914 house on Main Street stay, and they want to close or reduce the size of the town dock’s east boat-launch ramp. They also liked the general idea of a community space for artists or musicians, but said no to a splash pad on the parcel.

“The committee tried to pick the themes that were consistent from the feedback to narrow it down to a rough idea of where to take it from there,” Thyssen said. 

Public input favored several aspects of Concept 1 from Ayres Associates, including the saving of the Main Street home, a compromise on parking, artist walk and a reduced watercraft launch. One aspect the public didn’t favor was the inclusion of a splash pad.

Other feedback will require some compromise, Thyssen said. The consensus of the feedback and the committee is to prioritize green space over parking, but the parcel was purchased in significant measure for its large dock and boat slips. 

“We have slips, and part of a slip is you get a permit for parking,” Thyssen said. “But the public wants more green space. So we need to find a happy medium between the 20 parking spots the committee wants and the 60 the harbor committee wants.”

The steering committee met with the Harbor Commission to discuss the extent of parking on the parcel, and also to coordinate planning for the land with planning for the future of the piers. 

The feedback is now back in the hands of Ayres to guide new concepts based on the direction of the steering committee. They will bring  new concepts back to the town board at its Sept. 6 meeting, with more revisions to come after that. Thyssen said he hopes to solidify the plan by the end of October.

Gibraltar created a waterfront master plan in 2016 to guide the general development of the downtown waterfront. The steering committee work has focused specifically on the Kinsey property. 

“What we’re trying to do here is come up with some really good ideas we can build off of,” Thyssen said. “We want something the public can get behind and we can start creating our plan. The master plan was a bunch of ideas, and that plan was made before we owned the Kinsey property. But the master plan did say that we should look at extending our waterfront ownership and that’s one of the reasons we bought the property in the first place.”

The town bought the .46-acre parcel for $3.5 million in large part to expand the town dock. The parcel included the potential for 28 boat slips. It also included the Main Street house and a cottage on the waterfront side of the parcel.

One-way Working Well

Last fall the town converted Spruce Street to a one-way street in hopes of eliminating some of the confusion at the busy intersection where Main Street, Spruce Street and Highway 42 intersect at the bottom of the hill. Thyssen said the change appears to be working well so far. 

“We have some people who sometimes can’t pay attention to the nine signs we have down there,” he said. “But we’ve heard great feedback from delivery drivers who now have a dedicated lane to unload while people can get around them. And we’re taking one less car out of the intersection confusion.”

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