Letter to the Editor: Slow-Walking Mariners Park

The Town of Liberty Grove seems to be moving at glacial speed in creating what taxpayers said they wanted for Mariners Park at Gills Rock. Nearly two years ago, town chair John Lowry and the town board proposed purchasing the (now) Mariners Park property for just under $1.5 million during a town meeting. Citizens had soundly defeated this property purchase 10 years earlier. 

This time, Lowry made two very significant declarations: that the property, if purchased, would be a blank slate and that the people would decide the use of the property.

With those assurances, residents voted in favor, and the property was purchased in January 2019. In the spring of 2019, the town conducted a survey to determine desires and rate 18 uses for the park. The top four choices from 644 survey respondents were: create a public park with walking paths and benches, refurbish existing docks for public use, construct a small pavilion for public use, and create a safe harbor with a launch ramp only.

Citizens made their wishes known, and the town declared the results accurate. But the park needed a development plan. Therefore, several of us, working with professional landscape architects, incorporated all of the top survey requests, plus our suggested improvements, into a “conceptual plan.”

We believed that having a tangible, graphic park proposal would serve as a catalyst for discussion. Despite having no plan of their own, the town board and Property and Parks Committee have never considered the plan we proposed. 

The town budgeted no money for Mariners Park for 2020, so no money is available to make any park improvements. No grants have been applied for, and no financial vehicle for accepting donations has been established. We believe it’s time for the people to be heard. Despite making a $1.5 million investment, taxpayers have received no benefit from the park. We believe that decisions made by our elected officials should reflect the will of the people, and the time is now!

Steve Eatough

Sister Bay, Wisconsin

and Jim Maronek, Carole Maronek, Mike Bahrke