Beaver Dam Lake group proposes three-year plan for Skunk Island
A plan for Skunk Island is on the table.
The Beaver Dam Common Council heard a presentation about options for the future of the little island in Beaver Dam Lake near Edgewater Park. John Moser, the chairman of the Beaver Dam Lake Development Corporation, which owns the island, put forth a proposal for the council to consider.
The corporation has been discussing options for the island for about a year and offered to sell the island to the city for $1, before looking at other buyers. Council members have asked for more details.
Moser said the island is a “unique and potentially remarkable” asset for the city. The island has not been open to the public for years as the corporation has been concerned about liability if someone were to be injured and after a dispute about hunting. He said the city would be better capable to go forward with long-term consideration of the island and would have more immunity from lawsuits if someone were injured.
The goal throughout the discussion has been to figure out how to provide recreational opportunities to the public while also conserving its natural resources.
“We would really like to get some input on the direction, if we’re really headed in the right direction,” said Mayor Becky Glewen.
The proposal, looking three years in advance, would focus at first on enhancing the natural state of the island and working with a state arborist and the Department of Natural Resources. The plan also calls for possibly establishing a conservancy on the island.
That would mean the island would be closed while that work continued. By year three, the plan calls for putting a primitive dock in place for use by law enforcement and the fire department.
The priority during this time would be to restore the natural habitat. Moser said if the city took ownership of the island and then decided to open it up at some point, they would research putting in a kayak launch. He said the corporation would remain a close partner with the city.
If the city takes the island and establishes a conservancy, the council would be responsible for making sure the island is not exploited. The city would also have to look at how to make hunting possible again.
After being closed for years, hunters and others who remember the island fondly and hoped to share it with their friends and family are itching for the island to open back up for use.
Officials have expressed concern about safety and park maintenance. Skunk Island is in the town of Beaver Dam, so the Beaver Dam Fire Department and the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office are and would have jurisdiction. Another goal throughout this process is to figure out how to keep city expense and time to a minimum with volunteer labor and finding an organization that would be interested in striking an agreement to care for the island.
The Operations Committee will take up the island issue again on April 15. The corporation will also meet again after originally setting an April 1 deadline for a final answer from the city on the island.