Proposal To Purchase Skunk Island Advances In Committee

(Beaver Dam) The city of Beaver Dam may soon own an island on Beaver Dam Lake. The Beaver Dam Lake Development Corporation board of directors last month voted to offer Big Skunk Island to the city for one-dollar and other considerations. The rustic, 1.5-acre island houses electrical services for lake-related equipment and is currently off limits to the public due to the board’s concerns with liability.

Lake Development Board Chair John Moser told the Beaver Dam Operations Committee Monday night that the city has better liability coverage under recreational immunity statutes and would be in a better position to decide whether to open Big Skunk to the public.

Moser outlined three possible options if the city takes ownership. Until resources and funding are available keep the island as is with the “no trespassing” signs staying up; until resources and funding are available make no improvements but take the “no trespassing” signs down and open the island to the public; or if funds are available, develop the island and install amenities like a pier. If the city does take control of Big Skunk, the lake group is asking to maintain control of a shed where its equipment is stored.

City Parks Supervisor John Neuman says he does not currently have the staff to convert and maintain the undeveloped island like a park, in ways that would limit the public from being injured. Mayor Becky Glewen says she would not recommend opening the island as a park until such issues are resolved.

Last year, a local conservationists group told the lake board they would be interested in purchasing the island for use by their members. The board indicated at that time that the island is a valuable resource and should be kept in the public sector. The Operations Committee advanced the matter to the city’s Administrative Committee for consideration, and to hammer out the details of terms and conditions, with final approval needed by the full common council.