GREEN BAY, Wis. (Spectrum News) - Governor Evers presented a $100,000 dollar grant to Green Bay on Tuesday from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
The grant goes towards the $7 million dollar project to reopen the swimming area at Bay Beach in Green Bay.
While a $100,000 dollar grant may not seem like a lot monetarily toward the overall financial goal, the fact that the project qualified for the grant is significant and a good sign.
"We are just so lucky to be here, to be on the largest source of fresh water in all the world. And, sometimes we fail to recognize that and I think for much of our recent history we have failed to recognize that. We've had a pretty dysfunctional relationship with our natural resources here," said Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich.
Back in the early 20th Century Bay Beach was a popular swimming destination that saw hundreds of "bathers" visiting each day.
However, towards the end of the 1930's excessive industrial pollution in the Fox River and Bay of Green Bay made it a hazard to one's health to be in the water.
"But, water quality has greatly improved since the Clean Water Act was enacted in 1972, and with various and other local and state efforts, reopening the swimming beach here is a real possibility," said Governor Evers.
The city conducted a three year study finding the water safe to swim in, and the Department of Natural Resources monitors the water as well.
The Wisconsin Coastal Management Program is dedicated to preserving and improving access to the natural and historic resources of Wisconsin's great lake coasts.
A project will not get a WCMP grant if it degrades the environment, but it also needs to have a positive economic impact as well.
"The WCMP is actually able to walk and chew gum at the same time, and what I mean by that it is it balances the protection of the great lakes as a natural resource, but also supporting and sustaining economic development along the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior," said Governor Evers.
Latest numbers we see $3 million visitors here at Bay Beach. We expect that to grow with a swimmable beach," explained Mayor Genrich.
$5 million is being generated from a percentage of proceeds coming from Bay View Amusement Park.
Previous mayor Jim Schmitt is working towards raising $1 million dollars from private citizens.
The city plans to complete the project: a sand beach, pier, and dock by the summer of 2020.