Fish Creek Says Yes to Waterfront Purchase

Fish Creek’s public waterfront will be a little longer next year. On Monday, voters in the Town of Gibraltar approved the purchase of 0.49 acres of property on the shoreline adjacent to the town dock for $3.5 million. 

The final tally was 114 in favor and 47 against the purchase of the Holiday Harbor Cottages, owned by Barb McKesson. The parcel includes McKesson’s house and cottages, as well as 28 slips on six docks. 

Gibraltar Administrator Travis Thyssen said the future use of the docks and waterfront portion of the property will be in the hands of the Harbor Commission, and the fate of the buildings will go through the town board. McKesson will stay in her home into the spring as part of the purchase agreement. 

“In the short term, we are looking at ways to use the buildings for housing,” Thyssen said. That could be for local organizations or town employees. He said the board will discuss options early this winter. 

The town is financing the purchase through a loan from the Wisconsin Commissioners of Public Lands, and it will be paid back over 10 years with an interest rate of 3%. The first payment is due in March of 2023. 

The property, outlined in blue, would add to the town’s dock property at left.

Thyssen said $100,000 per year will be paid with revenue from the town dock and the new slips acquired with the property, which are expected to generate $80,000 per year. That will leave $353,000 in debt service for taxpayers to pick up, but Thyssen said taxpayers won’t see an increase on their tax bill because debt service for the town fire station and maintenance building will be paid off next year. 

Voters also approved the separation of the clerk/treasurer position into two separate positions. 

“As our budget has grown over the years, our auditors recommended we split those positions for stronger checks and balances,” Thyssen said. 

Kelly Murre now has the clerk title, and Theresa Cain-Bieri will serve as treasurer. 

The town was scheduled to meet after this issue went to press to discuss future street improvements in the old downtown area. The project will include new paving, stormwater improvements, sidewalks, parking and street lighting. That work is expected to be completed in phases during the fall of 2022, spring of 2023 and potentially in later years. 

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