Updated Oct. 30, 2017 – I’m told the new foundation in the photographs are for an expanded garbage and recycling area in addition to, but not the new boathouse. The new boathouse will be located south or in front of this area. See the map below from the master plan variance.
The new $105,000 boathouse which will add an additional footprint to the north shore is being funded by the Friends of Devil’s Lake State Park and the Devil’s Lake Concessions Corp and will be used for winter boat storage. There is also a plan to use the new building as a base for new park services including; guided interpretive hikes, rock climbing instruction, scuba diving instruction and so on. Many of these services are currently provided within the park by a variety of private, professional outfitters and certified instructors.
A Moments Discussion…
On a side note, even a simple concrete garbage area or boathouse can potentially impact many people and interests which is why it is important that we ask questions and that the public is fully aware of not only new buildings but other projects as well. How millions of visitors experience our park, our state and our community can be irreversibly impacted with just the turn of a shovel. Not to mention historical and environmental concerns.
When it comes to building a new boathouse at Devil’s Lake, something I support mind you, I would love to hear more about how the location was chosen. Personally, I hadn’t realized how close these new projects are to a historic Native American linear mound. I can only assume there was a proper, modern archeological study done. (The fact that there is currently a small utility road there doesn’t guarantee a proper study had been done in the past.) There was an interesting case in Iowa a few years back where, in the zeal to build a multi-million dollar boardwalk, the NPS overlooked doing the studies and found themselves looking at a costly “Undo”. I invite you to read this 2014 article.
I’m also curious how many people were consulted about the location given that it will certainly change the look at feel of the park’s north shore. The process seemed a bit rushed from a public point of view. Back in the day, when the park chateau was built, it was controversial because it would impact park visitor’s view of the lake. (I think it’s fair to say now that practically everyone loves the chateau.) Yet, adding another building will add more “clutter”. How does the public feel about that? Did we really find out? Were they offered a clear vision of how the change would impact the north shore? These days, we have the ability to have an architect or artist do mockups that would give the public a good overview of the look and impact of any new building. It wouldn’t have seemed out-of-line to have placed an artist’s rendering in the 2017 park paper with a form, email, and link to an online survey. Then after publishing the results, set in motion the request for the variance.
Is it all “much ado about nothing”? Probably. Often though, I find that the more information you share up front and the more opinions you gather, the fewer questions people ask later.
DISCLAIMER: For the purpose of full disclosure, I personally lead private, commercial hiking tours within the park through Devils Lake Adventure Hikes, but due to the nature of what we do, I do not expect to compete with Devil’s lake Concession Services.
Just a reminder, DevilsLakeStatePark.com is owned by Skillet Creek Media and is not associated with the Wisconsin DNR in any way. My opinions do not represent those of the park or the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.