STURGEON BAY – City leaders and tourism officials believe residents and visitors will have even more reason to visit Graham Park on the downtown waterfront than ever before.
After just over two years of work, the redeveloped park at the East Side foot of the Maple-Oregon Bridge officially unveils its new features at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 3. The public is invited to attend.
Before plans to redo the park broke out in June 2020, it was mostly green space in front of Center Pointe Marina with a walkway along the Sturgeon Bay Canal and a few tables.
Now, the Graham Park look includes a seating amphitheater that was built last summer where visitors can catch acoustic music performances and other events or just relax in a quieter space. There are also concrete ping pong tables, cornhole/bag toss games and chess and checkers tables where people can play for free (these have also been in place since last summer) and flower gardens.
But the park’s centerpiece is “Confluence,” Door County’s only sculptural water feature on a peninsula with a long history of industry and recreation tied to the waters around it. The feature, which has a giant sail in the middle of a fountain, was designed by local artist Robert Soukup and made by staff at Fincantieri Bay Shipbuilding, with technical assistance from Bay Engineering and Tim Graul.
“It’s really exciting to see this project come to an end,” said Sturgeon Bay Administrator Josh VanLieshout. “Putting all the activities in there…putting all these pieces in place and activating them is really exciting.”
VanLieshout said the impetus to redo the park came particularly from Pam Seiler, then executive director of Destination Sturgeon Bay, aided by other community and business leaders, including Sterling Landscape Services.
The project was expected to cost approximately $450,000 and was funded entirely by private donations, including the sale of commemorative brick pavers, benches and trees. Sterling Landscape donated the landscaping master plan and adopted the park for five years as part of the city’s Adopt-A-Park program. The park remains city-owned, but Sterling will oversee its maintenance until the city takes over in 2026.
“It wasn’t near town,” VanLieshout said. “It was an investment that others wanted to make in a public space, and that makes it special.”
The remodeled park is the latest result of efforts to improve Sturgeon Bay’s downtown waterfront and add attractions to both sides of the canal. The city has three parks on the water – Bay View and Sawyer on the west side, plus Graham – plus Martin Park a block away with its free Harmony By the Bay concerts on Wednesday summer nights in its own amphitheater.
And there’s the new 10-story Jim Kress Maritime Light Tower at the Door County Maritime Museum and the historic 90-foot-tall Teweles & Brandeis Grain Elevator that’s being transformed into a cultural and entertainment center. ‘Door County Granary events, both overlooking the West Side. seafront.
About a year and a half ago, the city also erected wayfinding signs at its main entrances off the 42/57 state ring road and pedestrian totems on downtown sidewalks to direct traffic. people to its points of interest and promote Sturgeon Bay as a walkable and cycle friendly place. community.
VanLieshout compared the recent increase in downtown and waterfront development and improvements to a similar interest in the waterfront in the 1990s, when a number of projects were developed there, including Stone Harbor Resort.
“All of these (recent projects) are catalyzing investment,” he said. “We’ve seen the investments we had in the 90s inspire other investments, and we’re seeing that now.”
Destination Sturgeon Bay, the town’s tourist office, will host the ribbon-cutting ceremony in Graham Park at the end of Pennsylvania Avenue. City officials and other people important to the project will be on hand.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-741-7952, 920-562-8900 or [email protected]
RELATED: Sturgeon Bay looks to the future at West Waterfront, Graham Park makeover
RELATED: Sturgeon Bay hopes to lure Door County tourists with wayfinding signage program
FOR MORE GATE COUNTY NEWS:Visit our homepage