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Wisconsin Dells Plan Commission approves plans for new amusement park

Wisconsin Dells Plan Commission approves plans for new amusement park

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A new amusement park could be coming to Wisconsin Dells but it will need further approval from the city and state before construction can start.

The Wisconsin Dells Plan Commission approved a conditional use permit and site plan for Lower Dells Adventures, LLC to construct the first phase of an outdoor amusement park at its meeting Monday.

Several conditions were listed in the approval, including all parking areas be paved no later than one year after approval, submission of all railroad access documents, Columbia County approval and permits for holding tanks and wells and submission of all Department of Natural Resources allowable uses, permissions and permits. The expiration of the conditional use permit will be one year from the date of final approval.

The permit and plan will go through further review by the common council at its March 15 meeting, where council members will decide to grant final approval.

The proposed development would turn over 70 acres of vacant land into an amusement park on Grand Cambrian Drive, the lower part of the Wisconsin River. A resort was planned for the location in 2005 that was never developed. It ran into problems with permits from the DNR, having a tunnel or bridge built under the railroad tracks that runs through the property and lawsuits objecting to it. The property went up for auction in 2015.

Lower Dells Adventure’s Owner Adam Makowski, who also sits on the city’s Business Improvement District Committee, purchased the property in December intending to turn it into an amusement park called The Land of Natura. Makowski said the development plans to preserve nature and work with the area’s natural elements, including adding a three-acre lagoon providing a natural filter through the wetland bogs.

Makowski said the focus is on Phase 1 of development and he wants to return to the city to present further plans for review.

He said 14,000 feet of hiking trails and 2,000 feet of biking trails are also planned for the property. Fenced in treetop journeys would also be installed, Makowski said.

“We wanted to keep it free flowing like you would be walking through the woods,” he said. Phase 1 also includes construction of several items including beach access, beach cabanas, fire pits, yard games, a boat dock, a boat launch, an observation tower, an extreme mountain bike course, a natural swim pond with inflatables, a dog park, net courses, kids path adventures, zip lines, fishing and kayaking, according to city documents.

Stewards of the Dells of the Wisconsin River member Debbie Kinder said she liked the amusement park’s strategy involving the river and getting people outdoors. However, she was concerned about a 300 foot conservation mark on the property, the same issues the proposed resort ran into years ago.

“That conservation zone has a lot of protection,” Kinder said. “I think this protection is a very important part of the plan… I think they are doing some good things but I think it’s very, very important that we respect this zone and not have any permanent structures there.”

General Engineering Company President and Project Manager Bradley Boettcher said he’s had conversations with the DNR about wetland requirements and working with the state to obtain the proper permits for the development. He said permits could be obtained in stages and multiple permits will need to be issued for the amusement park.

Wisconsin Dells resident Eric Helland, spoke of several concerns. He suggested installing a fence and signs to keep out trespassers visiting the amusement park off a bluff near his property.

“We have a liability issue that we don’t want to be brought into,” Helland said. “We’re in favor of it but we’d like to have some safeguards.”

Makowski said he’s talked with Helland and will work out a solution to address his concerns.

Wisconsin Dells Mayor Ed Wojnicz believes Makowski’s proposal for the nature amusement park is the “best use” of the land to maintain the area’s natural beauty.

Follow Erica Dynes on Twitter @EDynes_CapNews or contact her at 608-393-5346.

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