Wonewoc Community Bands Together

by Diane Dahl

The Wonewoc Village Board meeting last Wednesday was filled to capacity. There were 2 agenda items garnering interest. One was a discussion on building a canoe and kayak launch and a second to discuss allocating funds for the Baraboo River Corridor Plan. A motion was quickly made to parlay the two into one discussion; they were mutually exclusive. (The Baraboo River Corridor Plan most likely would include the building of a handicap-accessible launch).

Village Administrator, Lee Kucher, presented the financial plan to use Coulee Region Docks to build a handicap accessible launch for $14,659 with funds coming from a bank loan. “If we use MSA's Baraboo River Plan, we pay $5000 for just a plan but don't know what the final cost of building a dock is until Phase 2 is completed.” The floor was then open for comments - And, comments there were. For 45 minutes people talked and commented and it was all in support of the project.

It started with Raine Gardener from MSA Professional Services, and architects of the Baraboo River Corridor Project. She explained that the project was a plan- a plan leads to recommendations. Wonewoc would be part of Phase 2. The Phase 1 Plan is completed. It covered a 15- mile stretch from North Freedom to West Baraboo. It included piers and connection plans to trails. West Baraboo built a non-motorized boat launch and North Freedom a motorized launch next to their ADA canoe and kayak launches. Through this plan, by putting communities together we were able to almost fully fund the cost of their projects with grants- national and municipal grants. It has been a huge success. It's created businesses and it's bringing people who are spending money into the communities.

Many grants require a planning document like this one to even apply. By doing this plan, we have already been told by the National Park Service we would receive a National Water Trail Designation. There are several across the country and they are extremely popular. Communities have heard about the success of Phase 1 and joined into Phase 2. Raine further talked about the importance of planning and design to build an appropriate dock for the site that are as maintenance-free as possible for the community.

“The dock Lee showed is not fully ADA-compliant and it is susceptible to flooding. We want a fully-ADA compliant water trail. We would be the first in the nation. If that is the case we would get national coverage. We are looking for your community to join Elroy, LaValle, Reedsburg, Rock Springs, Juneau and Sauk County who have signed on and that puts you higher in grant rankings. Let us work with your community and suggest a plan, get donations and grants so you won't have to borrow from a bank. This plan doesn't guarantee you'll get the grant but it will set you up perfectly for it. Private business owners have seen the success of Phase 1 and are pledging to financially support projects in Phase 2.

Other comments from the community included: “Putting ourselves in a family will help keep our businesses healthy. We live in the most beautiful part of the 400 trail. The 3 castles are breath-taking. This will help us thrive and introduce people to our god-given beauty.”

Anne Miller. “Bring Millenials back. When I grew up here, we had celebrations. We had stuff. We don't. It makes me sad. And taking care of our water- that's huge. It's a great town. Do this for this town and improve the environment while we're doing it. And if you're worried about the extra work. Look at us we're here. We'll do it. Teach us.”

“Looking around there are 5 Bakers in the room. Parents and grandparents who got this town going. But we have not been building on what they started. This is a project these parents and grandparents would love. Build on what they started.” “This is the opportunity of a life-time. Take advantage of it.”

“This is a great opportunity to be part of a legacy project. You can be proud to be on the Board that did it.” “I worked in the Dells. People would come up and ask what to do. They didn't want the Dells activity they wanted nature. Build on what they want here.”

“Look around, this project has already brought this community together and that's a remarkable resource. Don't waste this community effort.”

Laurie- “What makes my heart hurt is the number of people who know where Reedsburg is. They know where Hillsboro is. They drove through Wonewoc to get there. But they don't remember Wonewoc. Let's put Wonewoc back on that map.”

Lucy Graham- “I grew up here, then left and came back. People asked why I came back -I came back here for the outdoors. That's why I live here. There's wonderful resources here. You don't always have to go to Madison or a bigger town. We have what's important.”

“We need to bring Millenials back. My kids moved away. I'd love for them to have an opportunity to come back. Recreation is what does it. And bringing people of all ages together that's what recreation does. Whether it's fishing, boating, paddling, places to take your grandchildren. Our town- embrace it's heritage. It's history. I applaud you for tonight and just hope you go forward with it.”

“It makes you more powerful in grants. Why wouldn't we wait to build to see if we can save money on a dock through grants and be part of something bigger. Expand the community and campgrounds. The waste treatment plant would be easier in a community.”

“We know we're going to have water problems with phosphorous. It will be easier to solve in a community. Don't slap it away”

People pledged funds for the project. Micah from Beyond Boundaries pledged $1000 for the program. . There was a discussion on getting money through fund raising.

When all was said and done the board voted to table agenda item #1. They also voted to sign the agreement and allocate $5000 toward the Baraboo River Corridor Plan. It was a unanimous “yes” vote and the community was happy. They had made a difference.