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WCMP support is giving new life to coastal community waterfronts as deteriorated downtowns and industrial sites are refurbished as parks, lake walks, marinas and more. As a bonus, the renovations curb polluted runoff, clean up contaminated sites and slow erosion.
Some communities want to preserve what they have and others want to rediscover their coastal assets. The Wisconsin Harbor Towns Association is one partner that sees a future in boosting local economies by making waterfronts centers for quality recreation and tourism. These include making lighthouses, cruise ships, docking areas, diving attractions and more attractive for visitors, restaurants and shops.
Of the $10 billion that tourists spend in Wisconsin each year, more than $4 billion is spent in coastal communities, according to theWisconsin Department of Tourism.
For the City of Bayfield, WCMP funding opened the door to waterfront dances, weddings and many happy memories. From 1995 to 1997 the city renovated a pavilion that it had owned since 1930. Such classic crooners as Louis Armstrong and big band leaders like Tommy Dorsey played there. Originally designed as a roller rink and summer dance hall, the pavilion was uninsulated.
"We wanted to turn it into a year-round community center and WCMP funding was a linchpin that made it happen," says Larry MacDonald, Bayfield mayor and WCMP council member. Funding will also help complete a waterfront plan.
Sheldon Johnson, deputy director of the North West Regional Planning Commission (NWRPC), also lauds WCMP's help with a new conference focusing on Lake Superior's past and future. One issue will be identifying zoning limits on areas prone to erosion. "The last thing anyone wants to do is put a house up on a beautiful overlook and find out five years later that they only have 20 feet left."
Natasha Kassulke is Associate Editor of Wisconsin Natural Resources.