Clay Banks – On Oct. 1, 1679, having consumed the last of their corn and pumpkins purchased from the Potawatomi Indians, Robert LaSalle’s exploring party landed their canoes on a coast “high and steep and exposed to the northeast wind, which was then blowing and soon grew so strong that the waves were breaking with violence on the beach,” according to an excerpt from La Salle’s journal on the County of Door’s website. The French explorer and fur trader had landed at what is now a county park bearing his name – Robert LaSalle County Park – which, 344 years later, also has a brand new pavilion.
The Door County Board of Supervisors accepted a donation Tuesday that paid half the cost of the structure at Lower LaSalle County Park. Robert LaSalle County Park’s upper park area is located at 408 County Road U in Clay Banks, and the lower park area is located on the lakeshore off Lower LaSalle Road.
Wayne Spritka, Door County facilities and parks director, said the project had been approved in 2019 but the bid was expensive, the pandemic hit, and turnover among parks managers kept the project on hold. The current Parks Manager, Tim Kazmierczak, who started his position a year ago, wanted to resuscitate the project at one of the county’s oldest parks, which is also a quarter mile from the highest headland formation along the shore north of Chicago.
“So, we brought it back to be formally recognized,” Spritka said, before the county board approved acceptance of a donation from the Friends of the Door County Park System that paid 50% of the cost of the structure.
The Friends’ donation was for $36,025.79 of the total $72,051.58 – which came in under the $75,000 budgeted for the project, Kazmierczak said in an email to the Peninsula Pulse.