May 21, 2010

On May 19, the City hosted a waterfront redevelopment forum. This presentation revealed for the first time the redevelopment concept plans for the Gilbert Paper mill site. These plans are the culmination of a two year effort involving the city, site owners/developers, and regulatory and funding agencies. Featured in the plans are public shoreline enhancements, including walking trails, fishing piers, and habitat restoration. These enhancements are integrated with proposed private site elements including access drives and building sites for future commercial uses.

The plans for the Gilbert site were presented in the context of other local and regional waterfront initiatives that are underway to reconnect individuals and communities with our water resources and heritage. Presenters at the forum informed us of a broad range of accomplishments and initiatives including:

· Ongoing efforts to receive Federal designation for the Fox-Wisconsin Heritage Parkway. This designation will secure technical assistance and funding for the project
· An update on a water trail for non-motorized watercraft and identifying Menasha as a key destination
· Strong support for the Gilbert Mill Site Redevelopment Plan from the downtown business community
· Several habitat restoration and public recreation ideas were described. Opportunities exist along the main shoreline and within a redesigned by-pass canal (Lawson Canal)
· Acknowledgment that the downtown is emerging as an attractive home for arts and entertainment and that branding/marketing the waterfront is key to sustaining the community into the future

We are all excited about the potential of the Gilbert Mill redevelopment site and how it fits into larger plans for the Fox River corridor. A team consisting of city staff, engineers and the developer have identified several potential funding sources to make this project a reality.
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