Visions of the future for the Fowler Lake shoreline
Designs meant to show ‘what is possible’

By Ryan Billingham - Enterprise Staff

March 4, 2016

A view of the existing pier on Fowler Lake from the gazebo.
Ryan Billingham/Enterprise Staff

OCONOMOWOC — A new vision of the Fowler Lake shoreline is taking shape.

Oconomowoc’s park and recreation department recently released detailed preliminary images online created by design firm Stantec for the Fowler Lake Shoreline Shoreline project.

In February, Stantec revealed the “visioning” images of the multiyear project at an open house and later that day at a meeting of the Parks and Rec Board.

The images are being called drafts, because they are intended to to inspire and explore what is possible with the Fowler Lake waterfront, John Keliher, parks and recreation director, said.

Feedback about the plans from the meeting and from online submissions are being tabulated now, Keliher said in an email.

The designs encompass the entire three-section project from the Village Green to the boat launch near St. Paul Lutheran Church on East Pleasant Avenue.

Fong’s Chinese Restaurant is conspicuously absent in the concept designs.
Ryan Billingham/Enterprise Staff

Section one

The first section of the project — though not the first phase of it — is the Village Green. The designs include a new pavilion with restrooms and warming house for winter skaters, enhanced parking and a new pier that would connect the section to the boardwalk.

Both Keliher and representatives from Stantec pointed out an obvious difference between the concepts and reality: Fong’s Chinese Restaurant is not in the middle of the Village Green.

The building is currently smack in the middle of the project, its owner Tommy Lin and the city at loggerheads over a price for the property.

The three sections of the multiyear Fowler Lake Shoreline Project.
Submitted rendering

A conceptual drawing of an improved shoreline with seating and firepit.
(click here to open 1Meg hi-res JPEG image of plan document, Section 1)

click here to open 1Meg hi-res JPEG image of plan document, Section 2)
Submitted renderings

Section two

The boardwalk area is the second section, but the first phase of the project. Stantec presented several options for the section.

The city received grant money from the Oconomowoc Area Foundation, the Greater Milwaukee Foundation and a community development block grant.

Changes in the designs include several “bump outs” on the boardwalk that would create more intimate spaces for residents on the Fowler Lake walk. The designers said they hope to create spaces conducive to gathering and creating life moments. Deck chairs, picnic tables and other such amenities could be added in the spaces.

The current gazebo and boardwalk are showing their age, but are still a prominent part of the community’s memories.
Ryan Billingham/Enterprise Staff

A view of the current boardwalk and gazebo from the lake.
Ryan Billingham/Enterprise Staff

One of the more grand suggestions in the designs included a boardwalk extension that connects the Village Green pier to the boardwalk, and could include a small open-air building on the pier, and a bridge area to accommodate skaters and paddlesport enthusiasts using the water.

Keliher hopes construction will begin as soon as this fall, but stressed these are concepts.

The city will be reviewing suggestions, incorporating them and working out new options with price estimates in the near future.

Section three

The boat launch would remain in the area near St. Paul Lutheran Church. The designs expand the pier there and include a canoe and kayak launch area.

One-way traffic lanes would help make better use of parking in the lot, but in the designs about five spaces are lost to larger facilities.

A screening device for a portable toilet (a DNR requirement near boat launches) is also a consideration.

The concept shows improved trail access and a shoreline improvement project.