The Wisconsin State Building Commission has approved additional funding to replace Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park.
The commission had previously approved 1.25 million for the tower, and Friends of Peninsula State Park earlier raised $750,000 in private donations. The commission has now voted to provide an additional $1.4 million for the project.
The new funds will be covered by bonding from a different project that came in under budget, according to a press release from state Rep. Joel Kitchens.
In August, a second round of bids for the project came in $1 million over budget, leaving the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) scrambling to find additional funds to make up the gap.
When the DNR deconstructed the 84-year-old tower in 2016, it estimated it would cost $750,000 to replace it. When a final design was approved in 2018, the budget was $2.07 million, but when the first round of bids came in in April, the lowest bid was $3.6 million. The DNR sent the project back out to bid in hopes that changing materials and some design elements would bring costs within budget.
The latest bids included changes to the ramp structure that the DNR said are required to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“I am relieved that we are finally able to move forward with replacing the iconic Eagle Tower,” Kitchens said. “When added together, Peninsula State Park and Devil’s Lake State Park account for 70 percent of the total revenue that comes from our state park system. Because the vast majority of people who visit Peninsula State Park will climb this tower, all of the other state parks across Wisconsin will also benefit.”
Kitchens’ office said the DNR indicated that there’s a chance construction on the tower could begin in late fall.