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Revamped downtown Oconomowoc waterfront plan calls for wide open spaces

Nov. 7, 2012

City of Oconomowoc- City Administrator Diane Gard estimated about 80 people turned out Monday night to get a look at a revamped plan for the Fowler Lake waterfront. The new plan knocks down buildings along Main Street, expands the village green and enhances the area with expansive landscaping into a park area with the lake as the centerpiece.

City leaders have discussed expanding Village Green all the way to the lakeshore to create an expanded public gathering place downtown with views of the lake. They recently contracted with Community Design Solutions (CDS), which collaborates with University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee graduate students to redo a plan to improve the Fowler Lake waterfront. Monday was the first opportunity to share CDS' work with the community.

Eileen Gillespie of Oconomowoc was enthusiastic about the renderings.

"I love the concept of the park. It's phenomenal." Gillespie said the plans remind her of New York City's Bryant Park.

"It's serendipity," she said of the Gotham-area green space. "I feel the same about this; it's a happy surprise and lifts the spirits. It would be amazing if we could do this," she said.

Hollie Schick expressed one concern about the project.

"I'll miss the boardwalk. I understand it takes more maintenance, but it adds charm," she said.

Gillespie agreed. "I hope they reconsider that," she said of the boardwalk.

Oconomowoc resident Scott Donald said he is "cautiously optimistic" about the waterfront designs.

"I'm always concerned about land swaps and always concerned about the lakefront," he explained. "I'm concerned that the condo project is sold and not empty and the impact it will have on the water," he added.

Mayor Jim Daley pursued a reworking of a enhanced design of the area in conjunction with other downtown projects on the slate - Fowler Lake Village, the condo project Donald referred to, and Worthington Apartments which are planned to be constructed across from the new community center starting next year.

City Planner Adam Sayre said the next step is to take the plans to various committees for continued discussion and feedback. It will then need to be reapproved by formally amending the city's plans to include the revisions. Sayre said this mostly likely won't happen until early 2013.

As far as what the project might cost, Sayre said CDS is working on a rough estimate he hopes to share at the Nov. 20 Common Council meeting. A timeline for the project has not been established but Sayre said it is a priority since the project will enhance downtown.

If you'd like to view the plans, visit the city's website, www.oconomowoc-wi.gov.

- Reporter Paige Brunclik contributed to this story

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Weekend Happenings

Featured this week:  

Delafield Block Party: 5 p.m.-12 a.m. July 10, 11, Downtown Delafield. Festival features food and music plus specialty brews and wine. Friday entertainment is The Orphans and The Toys. Saturday hear Up All Night and Rhythm Method. www.chamber.visitdelafield.org

Lake Country Art Festival: 9 a.m. July 11, Naga-Waukee Park, 651 State Road 83, Delafield. The Lake Country Art Festival features more than 100 juried artists from jewelry, paintings, photography, fiber crafts and metal artists. Children’s activities tent, silent auction, entertainment and food services provided by Delafield Brewhaus. There is a $5 donation per carload for parking with all money raised going to local charities and scholarships to graduating seniors.

Sussex Lions Days: July 10-12, Sussex Village Park. Annual event features carnival rides, live music, sport tournaments, sheepshead tournament, bingo, food and beverage booths, pony and camel rides and tractor pull. Fireworks Friday night. Parade at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. www.sussexlions.org

Annual Oconomowoc Arts Center Open House: 6 p.m. July 11, Oconomowoc Arts Center, 641 E. Forest St., Oconomowoc. Tom Klubertanz and Andy Zietlow will entertain visitors. Free brats, burgers and hot dogs. Local dance and community service groups will be on hand in the lobby with informational tables. Check out the 2015-16 season line up and take advantage of discounts for early ticket purchases.

Updates to this calendar are made weekly Monday afternoon. 

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