Lakefront's Future Beginning to Take Shape?
Conceptual plans were unveiled Thursday night.
Thursday’s public meeting on the Oak Creek lakefront marked a big milestone in the city’s years-long redevelopment efforts.
Oak Creek officials and their hired consultant, JJR, presented a conceptual outline of their vision for the 250 mostly-desolate acres along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
While it’s still preliminary and fluid, it’s the most specific plan to date for the lakefront’s future.
The land is divided into four parts – a northern neighborhood, a southern neighborhood, a “Carollville Green” and a public park.
The southern neighborhood would include medium-density residential; a park; “Station Square,” which consists of retail options for the neighborhood; and a corporate conference center.
The northern neighborhood would be another mix of residential and commercial.
Carollville Green, meanwhile, is planned as the “gateway” to the lakefront. It would include an amphitheater, plaza and a display noting the area’s history of manufacturing.
The lakefront park, which has been outlined previously, would be along the shoreline.
Officials said they made the preliminary plans based in part on input from the first public meeting. The plans will be updated and altered as more meetings are held and input is gathered.
“We want to see more comments … what didn’t we get right? What did we get right?” City Administrator Gerald Peterson said. “We have to get to a point where we are ready to start to build.
“After we get to the third meeting, I’m planning on using this plan to go to the next phase, which is to start to put this in place.”
Peterson was referring to the next public meeting getting residential input on lakefront concepts, to be held on a future date a few weeks from now.
But already on Thursday, angst about how much taxpayer money would go into the projects was present in a crowd of about 60 people at the Oak Creek Community Center. The concern about dollars-and-cents, for the most part, trumped any opinions on the actual concept itself.
Resident Arden Degner, a frequent visitor to Oak Creek meetings, toted a sign saying simply, “How much will it cost?” Several others mentioned a troubled condo project along St. Francis’ lakefront as an example of what they feared happening with their tax dollars.
Peterson acknowledged that some public investment would be necessary to kick-start redevelopment. He said residents would not see an increase in taxes to pay for lakefront work for at least the next two years, but after that is unknown.
Officials said they would work hard to get a developer with a proven track record in successful redevelopment projects.