Bill paves the way for riverfront improvements
(KAUKAUNA, WIS.) April. 14, 2016 – Governor Scott Walker will visit Appleton on April 14 from 11 a.m. to noon to sign a bill that broadens the scope of authority and responsibilities of the Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA). When signed, the legislation will amend state statute Chapter 237, the law that establishes and outlines the duties of the FRNSA. Under the new legislation, the FRNSA will now be able to develop and manage property adjacent to the locks. The bill signing will take place at Appleton Lock #3, located east of the intersection of Lawe St. and E. Newberry Street.
The legislation was developed cooperatively with the Wisconsin Department of Administration, sponsored by state senators Roger Roth, Robert Cowles, Dave Hansen, Frank Lasse and state representatives Jim Steineke, Amanda Stuck, Alvin Ott, Mike Rohrkaste, Michael Schraa, David Murphy and Gordon Hintz. The state of Wisconsin owns the 17-lock system on the Fox River that is maintained and operated by the FRNSA.
The legislation sets the stage for the FRNSA to move from a maintenance role to a development role. Under the bill’s new language, the Authority will be able to upgrade and develop the grounds surrounding the locks. “Our long-range goal is to improve access to the locks for boaters and pedestrians,” said Tim Rose, chairman of the FRNSA board of directors. “We have made substantial investments in renovating the locks, and its time for the public to enjoy this resource,” Rose said.
The bill will allow construction of a visitor center to eventually be located at Appleton Lock 3. The center was proposed two years ago and is being designed as a multi-media museum/educational center for area residents with interactive exhibits, classroom space, a scenic overlook, and public facilities on the lower level.
In August of 2015, FRNSA completed a 10-year project to restore and renovate all the 16 working locks on the lower Fox River. Today, this historic system is operational for the first time in 30 years. The Authority has invested more than $14.5 million of federal, state and private funds to complete that project on time and under budget. Locks in Kaukauna are scheduled for full operation in 2017.
According to Rose, the closure of the Menasha lock will not impede plans to increase access to the river. “We regard the Menasha lock closure as temporary,” Rose said. The FRNSA is committed to protecting the river and Lake Winnebago and the Wolf River System from aquatic invasive species, and is working to proactively create a plan that keeps the locks open and control invasive species. The FRNSA board of directors voted to authorize a feasibility study to assess the possibility of moving a proposed boat transfer/decontamination facility from the closed Rapide Croche lock to the Menasha lock site.
“There are hundreds of invasive species in the Great Lakes,” Rose said, “and if Menasha is the front line in defending Lake Winnebago, then moving a cleaning station there may make sense.”
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