The variances to the state’s master plan would enable improvements around Eagle Tower and restoration and accessibility at Eagle Bluff Lighthouse
MADISON – The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is seeking public comments on variances requested for improvement projects on two of Peninsula State Park’s most popular attractions, and the Door County Historical Society is asking people to offer their comments on the project with which they’re directly involved – Eagle Bluff Lighthouse.
One variance proposes additional parking and rerouted or reconfigured access roads at and around Eagle Tower, the 60-foot-tall structure overlooking the bay of Green Bay with an accessible canopy walk. The project would expand capacity by up to 100 more parking spaces possibly including spaces for oversized vehicles, improve public safety and alleviate congestion at Eagle Tower, Eagle Terrace and Eagle Panorama.
The other variance is for proposed restoration and reconstruction work on Eagle Bluff Lighthouse that would expand historical interpretation opportunities and provide additional amenities for visitors to the 156-year-old lighthouse and its museum, which is owned by the state but managed and maintained for the past 64 years by the historical society.
The hoped-for changes at Eagle Bluff include building a replica barn that would serve as a visitor center accessible to those who can’t get into the lighthouse, an interpretive replica summer kitchen, adding electricity to the lighthouse, and expanded parking with an accessible walking path to improve public safety, as with Eagle Tower.
The variances are needed to change the DNR’s Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Regional Master Plan, which includes Peninsula State Park. The variances need to be consistent with the area’s land management classification and objectives.
“The planned restoration and reconstruction project we are working on is a significant endeavor and we are committed to moving forward,” a news release from the historical society said about the Eagle Bluff variance. “This variance is crucial for us to proceed with the restoration and reconstruction efforts, ensuring that this historical landmark receives the care it deserves.”
The improvements are based on a Historic Structure Report the historical society commissioned in 2019. The goal of the project is to accurately restore the Eagle Bluff Lighthouse to the 35-year period when Capt. William Duclon served as light keeper and he and his family lived on site, from 1883 to 1918.
The project would focus on:
- Stabilization, fixing the issues that are causing deterioration of the existing structures before the damage becomes irreversible;
- Restoration, which includes repairing interior and exterior damage, restoring surfaces to their original material, refurbishing the buildings and interpreting these spaces accurately;
- And reconstruction of several original support buildings that were lost over time, including the barn and summer kitchen with an accessible visitor center and educational programming area.
The historical society says it “will be able to significantly increase outreach and programming opportunities, allowing the lighthouse to remain a historical resource as well as a museum” when the improvements are completed.
Comments on the variances must be received by Feb. 8. To submit a comment, send a letter to Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources C/O Yoyi Steele, Property Planner, 101 S. Webster Street, LF/6, P.O. Box 7921, Madison, WI 53707-7921; email [email protected]; or call 608-590-6027.
Contact Christopher Clough at 920-562-8900 or [email protected].
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