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Muskego lake development plan revived

Area was host to DandiLion Park

Aug. 17, 2011

Muskego - A developer is proposing a residential/retail development for an area of Little Muskego Lake that once housed the Muskego Beach/DandiLion Park amusement park.

The developer, Michael Dilworth, is presenting two alternatives for the proposed development, including one that offers the city the opportunity to purchase part of the site that would allow for the creation of a park and beach along the lake off Janesville Road at Pioneer Drive.

It is similar to a " Bring Back the Lake" proposal that was pitched last year by city officials and Dilworth, who was interested in working with the city to develop the land.

But the plan was abandoned in July 2010 after Dilworth, without explanation, decided not to proceed.

That proposal envisioned a park area with a beach house and concession building, picnic shelters, an area for concerts, trails and three to four buildings that would have retail and commercial space on the first floor and condominiums on upper floors.

Then-Mayor John Johnson talked about the possibility of creating a downtown area there and spurring commercial development in the vicinity.

The plan would have required the city to spend about $10 million to purchase about a 12-acre parcel.

When the proposal was abandoned, Johnson had said he suspected that neighbors pressured Dilworth not to sell his property. Dilworth owns two of the parcels for the proposed development.

At the time, some residents objected to the proposal, saying it was too costly for the city, and some of the lakefront property owners did not want to sell their land.

The new proposal from Dilworth involves about an 8-acre area, four parcels, all valued at more than $1 million.

The Common Council's Committee of the Whole is scheduled to meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday for a presentation and proposal regarding the possible purchase of two of the parcels for a future park.

Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti said Dilworth has done a good job addressing some of the concerns that were raised last year before the plan was dropped.

Some felt that a developer, and not the city, should be driving the proposal, Chiaverotti said. Others thought the proposed development was too large and too costly for the city, she said.

While no purchase prices have been discussed, Chiaverotti said the two parcels being offered to the city likely would be less than half of the original $10 million proposal.

Dilworth's attorney, Gerald S. Boisits, provided some details of Dilworth's proposal in a letter to council members.

The plan that does not include the park proposes eight houses near the lake and two buildings off Janesville Road that would have condominiums and retail space for restaurants and gift shops.

The plan that includes the park would have four houses and one condo/retail building. In this plan, the houses would be $1 million each and be situated in a "gated-community atmosphere," according to Boisits' letter.

The proposed development area was known as Muskego Beach between 1861 and 1967. It started as a resort hotel and store. Later, amusement rides and a dance hall were added, and when a new owner took over in 1967, the name changed to DandiLion Park, which closed in early 1978.

Much of the 35-acre site became the Bay Breeze condominiums.

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