Home » News » Coast Management grant awarded to help restore Bay Beach

Coast Management grant awarded to help restore Bay Beach

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

GREEN Bay – Gov. Tony Evers made a stop Tuesday, June 11, at Bay Beach Amusement Park to announce a $100,000 Wisconsin Coastal Management Program grant awarded to the City of Green Bay to help improve the shoreline with the hope the beach will reopen.

“One-hundred years ago, Bay Beach was a popular swimming destination,” Evers said. “It saw hundreds of visitors each day during the summer, but unfortunately excessive pollution into the Fox River and Bay of Green Bay resulted in the closing of the beach. There has not been a swimming beach in Green Bay since.”

With water quality having improved since the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, along with other state and local efforts, Evers said “reopening the swimming beach here is now a real possibility.”

“This grant for $100,000 from the Coastal Management Program to the City of Green Bay supports the efforts to reestablish that swimming beach,” he said. “The effects of this project will be the improvement of Bay Beach as an attraction and an asset, not only to the City of Green Bay, but to the state of Wisconsin.”

The City of Green Bay has plans in the works for a $7 million restoration project for Bay Beach.

Former Mayor Jim Schmitt, who remains involved in Bay Beach’s fundraising efforts, said the project is now $190,000 short of the fundraising goal.

Some of the improvements called for in the project plans include a sand beach 1,000 feet long where there is now a rocky shoreline, a shoreline walk, a bathhouse concession stand, a pier 450 feet long and a wetland habitat restoration area.

Dan Ditscheit, Green Bay Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department director, said Bay Beach had a pier extend out into the bay in the 1920s, but that pier was removed after the beach closed in the 1930s.

He said he hopes construction will be able to start this fall on the restoration project and be able to open it to the public in the summer of 2020.

Ditscheit said the city has been monitoring water quality at Bay Beach with the Bay Lake Regional Planning Commission receiving grant funding to do a three-year study on the water quality.

He said the study found the water quality to be “very comparable to other beaches along the shoreline of Lake Michigan.”

“We’ve been working very closely with the (Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources)… with this project and their help securing the DNR permits for this,” Ditscheit said. “They’ve been very instrumental in completing water quality testing out here. They are continually monitoring efforts that are going on right now. We’ll use that study that they hope to complete this fall to continue developing a game plan to improve the water quality of the bay as a whole.”

Mayor Eric Genrich said the area is fortunate to be located on “the largest source of fresh water in all of the world.”

“Sometimes we fail to recognize that,” Genrich said. “I think for much of our history, for much of our recent history, we have failed to recognize that. We’ve had a pretty dysfunctional relationship with our natural resources here, with our Fox River and our bay. But that’s been changing, especially in recent years.”

Genrich said Bay Beach annually sees 3 million visitors, which he expects will grow with a swimmable beach.

He said the beach will not be open for swimming until he and Ditscheit are assured the water is safe enough.

“We’re going to develop a very rigorous water quality testing regime to make sure that whatever day it’s open, it’s going to be safe,” Genrich said.

Schmitt said the permit to build the beach is contingent upon the city having daily testing for safe water quality.

“It will be as safe as any other beach along the Great Lakes,” Schmitt said.

Facebook Comments
Scroll to Top