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Swimming could return to the Green Bay waterfront in 2023

GREEN BAY – After six years of inadequate funding and record high water, Bay Beach could finally see bathers on its shores by the summer of 2023.

Photographs from the 1930s and 1940s depict children diving into the bay, all while harmful tar-like material from gas plants along the East and Fox Rivers discharged into Green Bay and Lake Michigan. The contaminants were so harmful that the city of Green Bay closed the beach in 1945.

After the EPA classified Fox River as a superfund site filled with 14 million meters of contaminated sediment, it seemed impossible that Bay Beach would ever be swimmable again.

Progress has been slow but still moving.

Since 2015, the city, with the assistance of federally funded feasibility studies and water studies, has pushed to reopen Bay Beach for swimming. But even after the city raised $ 5 million in bonds under former Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, inadequate funding and record waters made engineering questionable.

Now, having reassessed financial plans and stages at a park committee meeting last year, with water levels more than a foot lower than where they were last year and a “mother grant” pending. of $ 3.5 million which would cover both stages of redevelopment, construction of the beach could begin as early as this fall.

Before pollution closed the beach in the 1940s, people flocked to Bay Beach on hot summer days.

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“Like any large-scale development project, there have been a lot of twists and turns, but I am confident to say that, within a couple of years, we will see people swimming at Bay Beach,” said the Mayor of Green Bay. Eric Genrich.

Dan Ditscheit, director of Green Bay’s Department of Parks, Recreation and Forests, explained that under Schmitt, a proposed budget of $ 7 million would secure Bay Beach’s reopening. The $ 7 million was to consist of $ 5 million in bonds, $ 1 million in grants, and an additional $ 1 million raised in private donations from Schmitt.

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