MEQUON — Fundraising is underway to complete what’s been called the “staircase to nowhere.”
The Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Department is working to raise $30,000 to finish the second half of the stairway that provides access to Lake Michigan from the bluff above in Virmond Park in Mequon.
The first half of the staircase was completed in March 2019 and leads to a panoramic overlook of Lake Michigan, but does not yet provide a path to the lakefront. At roughly 220 feet, it is about half the length of the completed staircase, said Ozaukee County Planning and Parks Director Andrew Struck.
The fundraising will supplement more than $227,000 in grant money the county has already received to do work in the 63-acre, county-owned park on North Lake Shore Drive. That includes funds from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Stewardship Program and the Brookby Foundation.
The project includes completing the staircase, building a brick-paved walkway and invasive species management. Engraved bricks are available for purchase: Those who donate $100 or more will receive an 8-inch-by-4-inch brick engraved with a message of their choice and donors who contribute $250 or more may engrave an 8-inch-by-8-inch-brick.
The staircase project is tricky, as it involves an ecologically sensitive environment of clay bluff. The plan calls for a low-impact design of “floating” adjustable staircase sections secured by cabling to best fit the topography, according to county documents.
The floating staircase is the first of its kind along the lake and would be a case study for other sites along the shoreline, Struck said.
Struck said he is monitoring conditions at the park for the most optimal conditions to begin construction.