By Kathleen Propp
The Oshkosh Independent wrote that the Lakeshore controversy is “all over but the shouting.” I have taken a strong position that the city should either retain this prime waterfront public green space as a golf course OR as a community park.
However, I too expect that the city council will put together a non-binding proposal for a sale to Oshkosh Corporation by the end of October.
If the sale of the land is likely, here is what I would like this proposal to look like:
I propose that the city sell the 30 acres needed by Oshkosh Corporation at maximum market value, established with advice from outside professionals, not just the city assessor. The remaining 70 acres should be preserved as park land, with zero commercial development. Educated estimates for park improvements should be one factor in the city council’s ultimate decision about price.
It hurts a good sized segment of the community to give up Lakeshore golf course and to give up 30 acres of waterfront public park.
The dollars generated by the sale to Oshkosh Corporation should be earmarked directly for a natural Riverwalk, including some sections of natural shoreland plantings, and first class park and recreation improvements for our new Lakeshore Community Park. This task falls to the Parks Board to develop a master plan. This plan must include an architecturally appealing public bathroom, not the spartan cookie cutter bathroom that we have been putting into parks. Various recreation options could be included. I would urge the Parks Board to involve the community early in that master plan process.
It hurts a good sized segment of the community to give up Lakeshore golf course and to give up 30 acres of waterfront public park. I suggest that the public see Oshkosh Corporation effectively paying for 70 acres of Lakeshore Community Park improvements through a generous sale price, at the same time as it builds its new headquarters. This would help to heal the division in the community.
Lakeshore Concept 1 does include a small restaurant on the left of the main access road. I believe there is no need for further commercial intrusion into the golf course property. There are several developable or re-developable parcels along the north side of Oshkosh Ave. that could be used for this purpose. Considerable commercial space is nearby on the frontage roads.
Why am I so concerned about retaining park and recreation space? Lakeshore is about the same size (100 acres) as Menominee Park. All Oshkosh park land totals only 442 acres including Lakeshore. But Oshkosh falls well below national standards for a community’s parks, open space and recreation area which call for 7 to 10 acres per 1,000 population. Our city provides just over 5 acres, not including Lakeshore. We are also well below national standards for larger size community parks (Menominee, South Park, Rainbow, Red Arrow). Lakeshore Community Park would take some of the pressure off heavily-used Menominee Park.
I believe there is no need for further commercial intrusion into the golf course property.
What if negotiations with Oshkosh Corporation are unsuccessful? If the company elects to move elsewhere, as a member of the Oshkosh Plan Commission I will be voting NO for any other commercial or residential encroachment on the golf course property. It is an affront to suggest that this waterfront public green space is an “under-utilized” chunk of land that should be paved over for any and all development. Lakeshore Community Park (or golf course) is world class public waterfront space and should eventually be developed as such.
Guest submission by Kathleen Propp. Kathleen is a member of the Oshkosh Plan Commission, and is a former city councilor (1976-92) and Oshkosh Mayor (1984-86)