Green Lake sets economic priorities, looking to partner with Ripon College on revitalization efforts-1

Ripon College students Kolton Osterman and Jacob Dudley speak to the Green Lake economic development committee about areas the city could improve.

After receiving results from a community survey last month, the Green Lake ad hoc economic development committee has chosen to focus on three areas and is looking to partner with Ripon College to achieve its goals.

The primary areas of focus for the committee moving forward are revitalizing downtown, providing affordable housing and adding more events to the city, committee chairman and Ald. Chris Foos said at the committee’s meeting last week Thursday.

Beyond working with the committee to accomplish those goals, Foos, who also is an instructional aide at Green Lake School, has formed a Youth Advisory Panel composed of high school students to explore other ways of working to revitalize downtown.

Foos explained that the students could also serve as volunteers for various projects developed by the economic development committee.

The committee once again brainstormed ways to attract businesses and revitalize downtown, ranging from possible ordinances for uniform downtown business hours, to applying for grants, to identifying available real estate for local entrepreneurs.

In addition, the committee received feedback from Creative Enterprise Center (CEC) at Ripon College regarding the community survey that identified areas of interest within the community.

“We got a ton of suggestions for types of businesses to move in,” Foos said. “We have to try to make that a reality and try to bring them in.”

Ripon College students Kolton Osterman and Jacob Dudley spoke on behalf of CEC to present their initial findings.

After going through the survey, CEC determined that the city should undergo a feasibility study researching ordinances that foster business growth, examining what other municipalities of the similar size have done to generate business and exploring grant opportunities.

Another opportunity for growth identified by CEC was creating a brochure to attract future businesses that explains the process of opening a business in Green Lake, provides statistics about the area and explains what makes the community special.

The final opportunity for growth was to research optimal uses for the city’s Highway 23 Industrial Park, which would identify the best types of businesses for that land and examine what types of businesses would be sustainable.

Osterman and Dudley said the CEC would be able to do all of that research on behalf of the city, but it would need a contract to do so.

Green Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Meier (formerly Lisa Beck) said she will act as the point person between CEC and the city. Osterman anticipated sending the contract to the city early this week.

Beyond getting input from CEC, the committee spent the meeting discussing steps they can take to begin planning for downtown revitalization.

For example, committee member Charles Wallschlaeger plans to work on mapping the city’s businesses, and buildings for sale that could house businesses.

“We could put pictures of the sites for sale on our website,” he said. Additionally, CEC may work with the city on the mapping project.

Beyond mapping, Mayor Ray Radis said he recently spoke to someone interested in bringing a brewery to Green Lake. Heidel House investor Mike White identified an area on the Heidel House property that could potentially house the brewery.

White explained that the Carriage House is currently being used to store furniture, but could be converted into a brewery as it is not planned to be used by Heidel House developers.

By the next committee meeting, Radis said he’ll have an indication of whether the individual is interested in launching a brewery in Green Lake.

Another project the committee is exploring is creating a dog park in Green Lake. If Green Lake were to create a dog park, Foos explained that it would allow the city to qualify for various economic development grants.

“A lot of the community has asked me about this in the past,” he added.

Committee member Kent Strong volunteered to look into the dog park, with the help of Foos and Meier. Strong hopes to have a location, cost and time parameters for a potential dog park.

The committee is planning to meet the second Thursday of each month.

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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