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County committee recommends Eagles Nest purchase

By Kevin Boneske
Staff Writer

GREEN BAY – A resolution to purchase three parcels along Nicolet Drive for developing a boat landing on the Bay of Green Bay will be up for consideration Wednesday, Aug. 19, by the Brown County Board of Supervisors.

The county’s Education and Recreation Committee voted 5-0 last week to recommend acquisition of the vacant 4.54-acre Eagles Nest restaurant and marina property.

If approved by the full board, the resolution would authorize purchasing the land for $1.05 million with $195,500 coming from the county’s public works department, $249,000 from a grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and another grant of $605,500 from the Fox River/Green Bay Natural Resources Trustee Council.

Along with the resolution calling for increasing water access, the public works department would utilize the northernmost parcel for flood remediation purposes.

However, the resolution doesn’t include or authorize improvements on the property, and county officials acknowledge there is no plan currently in place to develop the land.

County Parks Director Matt Kriese said he would expect the site to include some way to launch a boat, though the size of the project or how much it would cost has yet to be determined.

He said all buildings on the site would be demolished after the county finalized a real estate transaction to purchase the land.

Kriese said grant money would also be sought to develop the site upon purchase.

The property’s possible purchase by the county has been pending for more than a year.

In April 2019, the county board passed a resolution to apply for a grant from the DNR for acquiring the land.

Kriese said the county will be able to buy the land without having to use money from the general fund after accepting the DNR grant and the grant from the Trustee Council.

Support, opposition

Additional public access to the Bay of Green Bay was a key reason the committee recommended the purchase to the full board.

Committee Vice Chair Kathy Lefebvre said it would be difficult for the county to obtain property elsewhere for public access to the bay like the Eagles Nest site offers.

Lefebvre said the county currently doesn’t have the funds to develop the site, for which different options would be looked at as to how to use the property.

Committee members heard from both supporters and opponents of the purchase at their Aug. 5 meeting.

Sports fishermen have called for more access to the bay with what they claim is a site able to provide boaters another launch area with a safe harbor.

The purchase is opposed by the Nicolet Drive Homeowners Association, whose members claim a boat launch would cause problems, and they would rather see a condominium development on the site.

One Nicolet Drive resident, Bill Acker, president of Acker & Associates consulting engineers, provided the committee with data he compiled as to why he believes the Eagles Nest property wouldn’t meet the county’s definition of a safe harbor and is not needed as a marina.

Acker, who claims it could cost as much as $7 million to develop the site as a boat launch facility, said the Eagles Nest is more than 15 miles from the Bay Shore boat landing, beyond the safe harbor requirement, and a reef can make it difficult to navigate there from the west to the east side of the bay when the water level is low.

He said he disagrees the Eagles Nest property is needed as a future boat launching facility, because the Green Bay Metro boat landing has been underutilized.

Launch fee hike

The committee is recommending another resolution to the board to raise the county’s uniform boat launch fee, effective Jan. 1.

The new fee would be $60 annually, $50 annually for seniors, $6 for a daily pass and $75 for a commercial pass.

In 2017, the county’s annual boat launch fee was set at $35 with a $30 fee established for seniors.

Kriese said the increase is recommended because of the rising cost of boat landing operation and maintenance and infrastructure costs, as well as increased use and comparable fees from similar municipalities with similar water access.

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