What to do about Lakeshore?

Last night I had the privilege of participating in a meeting and hearing on the potential sale and redevelopment of the Lakeshore Municipal Golf Course site. Public land is a finite resource that belongs to the citizens, and transferring any part of that to a private organization is a serious decision worthy of the passions that were on display last night. If you did not attend last night I encourage you to attend the open house tonight at the Oshkosh Convention Center from 6-8pm. Or, go here and leave your input online. You can also check out the renderings of the potential changes to the Lakeshore site, concept 1 is here, concept 2 is here. As I said at the meeting, I was impressed with concept 1.

A couple things came up at the meeting that I think are worthy of mention.

Why can’t a different site be chosen for Oshkosh Corp.? According to the city, this is the only available site that Oshkosh Corp. found suitable to their needs, and the only one for which Oshkosh Corp. invited a proposal.

Why is the timeline so compact? According to the city, Oshkosh Corp. is making a decision in November, so if Oshkosh chooses to submit a proposal it needs to do so by the end of the month.

Is the golf course losing money? According to the city’s certified annual financial report for the golf course, yes, the course had an average annual loss of about $35,000 over the last 8 years.

Did anyone consider keeping a golf course on the site with the potential new Oshkosh Corp headquarters? No, this was not something discussed.

Has a decision already been made? No, you can see the timeline online here. Importantly, the process now is just to determine if the city submits a proposal, it does not mean it will agreeable to Oshkosh Corp., or guarantee that Oshkosh keeps the headquarters.

For what it is worth, this is where I stand. As uncomfortable as it is to have a private corporation force our hand, the consequences of losing Oshkosh Corp. are too dire to not submit a proposal. It would be irresponsible, in my opinion, to not try to keep Oshkosh Corp. in Oshkosh. In addition, the concepts displayed last night, especially concept 1, represent an improvement to the Lakeshore site. I like golfing at Lakeshore, but the proposal, in my opinion, creates a truly mixed-use park that is open to larger diversity of uses and citizens.

As was pointed out, Lakeshore is technically a park, but it is a specific use park with limited clientele who must pay for access. The plans I saw last night really opened up a beautiful part of Oshkosh to more people and uses. It was well connected to neighborhoods, and flowed well into commercial areas. I will also say that the fiscal argument, i.e. that the course is losing money, did not move me. The losses are small and could be remedied fairly easily

So those are my opinions, take ‘em or leave ‘em. But please, participate in the process!

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