The Jacksonport Town Board and about a dozen residents who attended the monthly meeting on Sept. 29 got a 3-D computer-generated tour of a conceptual plan for an upgrade of Lakeside Park. Providing the tour was John Meredith, owner of Lakeshores Landscape & Design of Sturgeon Bay.
Meredith was tasked with coming up with three design proposals. The one presented at the meeting was the third concept.
Before the presentation, resident Les Kiehnau said during the public comment period that “a lot of people are not in favor of the current concept.”
“When you know there’s a real concern by people who have been around a long time, it indicates there should be more dialogue,” he said.
Mike Killenberg, a member of the town’s Parks Committee, reiterated that what they were about to see is a conceptual plan, a starting point.
Meredith started the 3-D walk through the redesigned park in the parking lot, which he redesigned for more efficient flow, and on to the existing park pavilion.
“I personally see more improvements to this building, but it is a functional building for what it is being used for currently, and there was a desire that it be kept in place,” he said.
The town asked for residents to fill in surveys about what they would like to see in the park, and Meredith said a lot of the 50 returned surveys brought up an observation tower.
He showed a conceptual design of a tower that could also potentially serve as a band shell and restroom facilities.
He also allowed for the design of a mound septic system to replace the current pit toilets at the park.
“We can keep it a fairly low-profile mound and make it blend into the landscape,” he said.
The virtual walk went down a maintenance pathway that would double as a pedestrian walkway leading to the new portion of the park, the former Koulias property south of the park that town residents approved the purchase of in 2012.
“We have a natural, dune-rich swale system on our new property. We want people to experience what the natural shorelines were at one point,” Meredith said in explaining that keeping the natural shoreline is in response to surveys that indicated the importance of maintaining the “quiet side privacy” that Jacksonport is known for.
There were a couple of existing buildings on the Koulias property that the town will have to decide what to do with.
“The question, is it cost effective to keep them?” Meredith said.
He said the design of the new park parcel would maintain the wooded space to maintain that quiet side theme and also buffer the park from the nearest neighbor, which is Les Kiehnau.
Meredith also came up with a plan for a redesigned farmers market that would maximize the space.
Ultimately, he said, it is the town’s decision how to proceed.
“It depends on where you want to go with your park,” he said, but adding to the park space by a third with the new property means “you want to invite more people to Jacksonport. That’s how I look at it. Where things actually end up, that depends on you guys.”
“We have an unbelievable opportunity here with that property we purchased at very little cost,” said Supervisor Tom Wilson.
The town received a grant of more than $700,000, which paid for a majority of the Koulias property. The town ended up paying about $76,000.
Killenberg said the park project has “energized people and got people thinking.”
“If there are no improvements, this has been a huge wasted exercise,” he said. “This is the showcase. We owe it to ourselves to make the most of this wonderful gift we have.”
Bob Kufrin, chair of the town’s Planning Committee, urged the board to approve the conceptual plan.
“That allows you to submit for grants,” he said. “Without approval of a conceptual plan, future activities are on hold.”
The board voted 3-0 to accept the plan.