The waters of Green Bay seen from the edge of Bay Beach Amusement Park.
A historic swimming beach might be returning to Green Bay. The city’s parks committee approved doing a $250,000 feasibility study to see if it’s possible to reconstruct the beach at Bay Beach Amusement Park.
The money comes mostly from grants including $120,000 from the Green Bay Packers Stadium District, $75,000 from the Fund for Lake Michigan and another $50,000 grant from the Wisconsin Coastal Management Program.
According to Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt, the study will determine if the beach can be built, if the state Department of Natural Resources permits can be obtained, and if the water quality is good enough to allow swimming.
“I think there’s just something cool about living in a city with a beach,” said Schmitt.
Bay Beach was closed to swimmers in the 1940s because of pollution. A large-scale dredging project on the Fox River and the Bay of Green Bay is removing PCBs. If swimming is a possibility, Schmitt said a beach would make the park an even larger attraction than it already is.
“I think there’s some other things we could program for younger adults in the evening with fire pits. I think there are some things we could do just along the beach with volleyball,” he said.
Bay Beach manager Jason Arnoldy said a million people visited last summer.
“A lot of people come here, don’t know much about the park and they always wonder where the beach is. It would be a great thing, go back to the tradition of the beach at Bay beach,” said Arnoldy. “Right now the closest beach to the Green Bay area is about 30 miles away in Algoma.”
According to Arnoldy, the park opened in 1892 and is the ninth-oldest in the country.
Depending on amenities like docks, cabanas and bathrooms, the beach could cost anywhere from $2 million to $4 million. The proposal to move forward with the feasibility study goes before the full City Council on June 21.