Letter to the Editor: My Opinion on Sturgeon Bay Waterfront Development

I feel Door County, first and foremost, needs a development that can bring year-round income and jobs to existing business. Another hotel is simply not the answer as existing [ones] struggle to stay afloat during offseason and finding help is also an issue in a tourism-based economy as we have.

The proposed project could [relocate] the tugboats, I am told, as one of Sturgeon Bay’s main tourist attractions I feel is another mistake. The “Old Mill” is not part of the plan and I feel will eventually become an “eyesore” to be torn down. In a tourism-based area you simply do not mess with nostalgic attractions.

Branson, Missouri, as a tourism-based economy, has numerous boarded up vacated hotels and theaters as a result of poor planning and holds food drives to keep families fed during the offseason. I proposed a large all glass nonalcoholic dance/convention center on the waterfront as the “John Denver” memorial performing arts theme park and training center in conjunction with NWTC as the first of its kind in America.

The dance facility could also serve as an indoor roller rink and youth center. The “Old Mill” would be a national historic building to be used as a warming shack for an ice rink on the water and children’s museum upstairs if feasible. An oldies-themed restaurant and classic car shows would also be planned.

The entire property would be roller skate-ready with ample parking in adjacent Maritime Museum and Sawyer Park. The training center could offer an associate degree in performing arts, business and management as one of the first of its type. Students graduate debt-free because they work at the park as is done at the College of the Ozarks in Branson.

A recent article told of the Nature Center near Waupun, Wisconsin attracting many over the past couple years with a tribute to “John Denver” as coming up this September. I feel Door County, within driving distance of millions of people, could draw year-round business if the same concept was used. The Packers and Kewaunee are making moves to attract more tourists to the area and I feel Door County has a chance to get on board. The future of Door County depends on it.


Jerry Kobishop

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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