Waterfront Designs Up for Review

The Sister Bay Citizen’s Waterfront District Advisory Committee will meet Sept. 27 at the fire station at 220 Mill Rd. Specific times and agenda have yet to be announced, but the meeting is expected to run from early afternoon into the evening.

The committee is studying what to do with the Helm’s Four Seasons property, which the village agreed to purchase in April for $4.9 million, as well investigating planning for the larger downtown business district. The purchase of the property will be finalized Nov. 15 and the village hopes to demolish the hotel over the winter, with the first phase of park construction ready for summer 2008.

Ideas were gathered and preliminary recommendations submitted to engineers from JJR consultants Aug. 21 and 22. The consultants will present two plans to the committee at the session, which will be available for public viewing prior to the meeting.

The committee will give JJR direction on a preferred vision for the water front, which could simply be a choice of one of the two plans presented, a combination of them, or something new. The consultants will then return to Madison to produce a master plan and come up with cost estimates.

For more information on the waterfront planning visit the Sister Bay Intranet site at

Thoughts on the Waterfront

By Myles Dannhausen Jr.

Editor’s note and full disclosure: The writer was appointed to the Sister Bay Citizen’s Water Front District Advisory Committee in August and is writing as a member of the committee.

When Sister Bay Village President Denise Bhirdo asked me to sit on the Water Front Advisory Committee I was hesitant. I cover the actions of the Sister Bay village board on a regular basis as a reporter, so agreeing to participate presents a conflict of interests from a journalistic standpoint.

But as a resident of the village with full knowledge of the lack of participation by people under the age of 40 in Door County planning decisions, I felt compelled to say yes and give some measure of voice to the young adult community in planning a park we will use for generations to come.

Then I saw the charge Village Administrator Bob Kufrin was giving the committee – a full day of meetings starting at 8 am on Tuesday, Aug. 21 and ending around 9 pm followed by four more hours the following day. I questioned what I had gotten myself into and immediately began to sympathize with the many public officials I’ve run into at the end of a day full of board and committee meetings, the fluorescent glaze pasted on their eyes.

But after that moment of shock, I realized this was a good thing, that the village was taking the future of this property, which it agreed to purchase for $4.9 million in April, quite seriously and had also put the planning on a fast track. The schedule included sessions to hear the concerns and ideas of stakeholders of all genres – neighbors, boaters, kayakers, Planning, Utilities, Marina, Parks, and Economic Development committees and others. Three public hearings were also squeezed into the agenda.

Over two days we probably heard from 200 people, some with great ideas and thoughtful concerns, others with wild concepts and definite non-starters. But they showed up and had a voice. The people we heard from genuinely care about what happens on the waterfront and seem to recognize its importance for the future of Sister Bay.

At the end of the sessions we sent the consultants on their way to devise concepts for the park with a list of those ideas we felt the public and committee unanimously recommended.

The committee has yet to decide on whether to recommend selling the property across Mill Rd. that will be included in the purchase of the Helm’s property. The parcel holds several possibilities if held onto. One would be to re-route Mill Rd. around the parcel so it doesn’t split the park. Another would be to use the space as parking. If sold, it could help the village offset the cost of the park and other projects it has undertaken but not completed.

JJR indicated they would come back with one plan with the land sold off and one with the land as part of the park. Some of the ideas the committee strongly endorsed from the session are as follows:

• expansion of the beach

• creation of a “silent sports” launch on the south end of the beach (kayaks, canoes, etc…)

• removal of the Helm’s Four Seasons buildings

• adding parking somewhere in the downtown area

• creating a boardwalk of some sort along the shore from the Marina Park at Bay Shore Dr. and Scandia to the end of the Helm’s property

• incorporating “green” aspects in the layout and educational/historical nods

Other possibilities include sand volleyball courts, moving the public restrooms at the corner of Bay Shore Dr. and Mill Rd., moving or renovating the old Village Hall (more of a long-term possibility), removal of piers on the Helm’s property, removing parking on the west side of Bay Shore Dr. and adding bike lanes through the village.

The committee is still seeking ideas and suggestions to make the park a new symbol of Sister Bay. Those who have input to share may email it to Bob Kufrin at [email protected] or attend the meeting Sept. 27.