Fish Creek stakeholders call on city to scale back old downtown plans

Residents of the City of Gibraltar have pushed back on plans to renovate the old town center of Fish Creek.

The scenic area surrounding Founder’s Square – defined by shops housed in small cottages, as well as historic inns such as the Whistling Swan and White Gull Inn – is one of the reasons Fish Creek has appeared on lists of the most popular small towns. Wisconsin’s prettiest, most walkable, and best. . Residents balked at Cedar Corporation’s initial plans that called for 10-foot sidewalks and the removal of dozens of trees that provide a canopy along Main Street and the side streets of Spruce Street, Cottage Row and Cedar Court.

“The initial plans were horrifying to everyone,” said Meredith Coulson-Kanter, owner of the White Gull Inn. “The Fish Creek Civic Association sent a letter of concern about turning everything into a concrete jungle, removing the trees. Basically, we said what we do on Main Street doesn’t need to be done on every side street in town.

The streetscape plan for Old Downtown Fish Creek began when the city sought solutions to stormwater runoff issues on Cedar Court. Photo of Myles Dannhausen Jr.

Coulson-Kanter was referring to the 2019 Highway 42 reconstruction that removed the strip of marigolds and green space in favor of wider sidewalks and replaced wooden utility poles with taller black utility poles.

Plans in the Founder’s Square area of ​​Fish Creek were scaled back after residents balked at the idea of ​​10-foot sidewalks and the removal of dozens of trees. Photo of Myles Dannhausen Jr.

Several business owners and residents who were contacted for this story agreed that streets needed to be replaced in the old downtown, and they agreed on the need to address stormwater management issues, particularly the along Cedar Court. This is where the project began, said city administrator Travis Thyssen.

“The road is in terrible shape and the drainage is really bad there,” Thyssen said. “We started there and then did a full survey of the area and came up with a plan that was the most we could do with roads and sidewalks, with the idea that we were going to cut back from there. “

Laurie Buske, director of the Gibraltar Historical Association, agreed that the sidewalks need to be addressed along the high street, but she did not agree that repairing them requires more than double the width.

“I would like this to be done without cutting down trees,” Buske said.

Thyssen said the initial idea was to widen the sidewalk to accommodate lots of pedestrians. This plan called for the sidewalk to be enlarged from four feet to 10 feet: the same width as the wide section of sidewalk in front of the Blue Horse Beach Cafe in the center of town. Business owners in the area — long considered one of the most walkable areas in northern Door County — balked at the plan that would have removed many tall, mature trees.

Thyssen said the plan will likely be reduced to six- or seven-foot sidewalks. He also requested sidewalks on both sides of Cottage Row, Cedar Court and Spruce Street.

“The general feeling of people seems to want the sidewalk, the gutter and the sidewalks of Main Street, and become more rural as you go towards the water and Cottage Row,” Coulson-Kanter said.

The city has also scaled back plans for Sunset Park. These initially asked to remove trees for parking and trucks, and to add a curb and gutter to the park at the end of Main Street used primarily by people catching the sunset.

Construction of rows of chalets to come

The deteriorated Cottage Row road will be rebuilt this summer, with work starting after July 5. Photo of Myles Dannhausen Jr.

Cottage Row is also undergoing renovations, but it’s not just about roads. Most of the summer cottages that gave the road its name have been replaced by massive houses, and several other construction projects are underway, clogging the road with workers’ vehicles and large trucks delivering materials to job sites. . This accelerated the deterioration of the long-neglected road.

This spring, the City of Gibraltar and the Wisconsin Civil Service removed dozens of cedar trees along the highway in preparation for road widening and to protect power lines. The road will be rebuilt this summer, with work beginning after July 5 and the targeted Labor Day completion date.

Work will include the installation of a bend at the bottom of the hairpin bend at the southern end of the waterfront section of the road. Thyssen said the turnaround has an estimated cost of $70,000 and will address issues with large trucks accessing the road.

“We constantly have construction trucks there that start on Main Street and back up that road because they can’t go up the hairpin and can’t turn around at the end,” a- he declared.

Thyssen said it takes a full minute for fire trucks to turn around and school buses don’t pick up passengers along the road because buses can’t turn around.

When Cottage Row road is rebuilt this summer, a bend will be added at the base of the hairpin bend – a hot spot for large trucks. Photo of Myles Dannhausen Jr.

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