Duck Creek Quarry opening soon for Howard residents, guests
By Kevin Boneske
HOWARD – For the second year in a row, access to the beach at Duck Creek Quarry Park will be open this summer to village residents and their guests.
The Howard village board voted unanimously Monday, April 26, to approve the policies for the quarry beach, which will be open to residents and guests with wristbands from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. May 21 to Sept. 7.
Village Administrator Paul Evert said feedback the village received from residents was overwhelmingly positive last year when the quarry’s beach was limited to them and their guests with wristbands, resulting in the quarry not being overcrowded.
Evert said the policies for this year also allow the village’s partnering agencies, the Brown County Sheriff’s Department and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, access to the beach for training purposes.
“We’ve let the Brown County Sheriff’s Department in before to train,” he said. “We’ve just never had that anywhere in our policy. We just kind of used common sense and let them in when they wanted to train. It’s never been an issue.”
In addition, Evert said established non-profit organizations with $1 million in liability insurance would be allowed to use the quarry during regular operating hours with prior approval.
“What I noticed last year, if anything, the quarry went from being kind of overlogged and abused to actually being a little underutilized,” he said. “I don’t really see any harm in allowing some groups that are non-profits to come in and do something, as opposed to someone who would come in commercially, say rent a boat or rent a kayak. I don’t think we want to do that, but I could see groups that don’t charge anything that do things for their own members to be given some access during regular open hours.”
Evert said the policy would make it possible for Green Bay Multisport to use the quarry to train for triathlons, which the board denied last year when the swimming area was limited to residents and their guests with wristbands.
He said non-profit groups interested in using the quarry would either have to contact him or Director of Public Safety Ed Janke to show they have insurance, etc.
Evert said an application will be available for non-profit groups to fill out with the details on how they would to able to use the quarry being worked out afterward.
Compared to last summer, when the beach closed at 6 p.m., Trustee Ray Suennen said he favored the 8 p.m. closing for 2021.
“I’ve had some communication from people who work during the daytime and would like the opportunity to go to the quarry for a couple hours at night,” he said.
Trustee Cathy Hughes said she hopes the quarry will operate as smoothly as it did last year, but she raised concerns about the use of wristbands being abused.
Evert said a guest who would have a wristband wouldn’t have to be with a village resident to use the beach when it’s open.
“We never require that, and it’s almost impossible to enforce that, anyway,” he said.
Evert said the village is considering the use of a Google signup sheet for residents to request wristbands, which could be mailed to them, instead of requiring them to come to village hall.
“We may not get as many people (requesting wristbands) as last year, quite frankly,” he said.
The quarry beach didn’t open last year until June 18 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and closed for the season Sept. 8, the day after Labor Day.
The board initially decided last May to close the quarry, a popular summertime outdoor swimming area, over concern about the spread of COVID-19 from possible overcrowding with other nearby swimming areas being closed last summer.
After the board voted 5-4 last June to reopen the quarry, gates and additional signage were installed with only village residents and their guests with wristbands allowed to use the beach from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
The remainder of the park stayed open to all visitors and all uses, except for swimming, during normal park hours.