A beloved part of Swan Park is getting a makeover with new walls, lighting and elements added to the lagoons in the middle of the park. The project is expected to cost around $1 million when completed in July.
Workers began tearing down the walls last week, Beaver Dam Mayor Becky Glewen said. Janke General Contractors of Athens removed the existing lagoon walls and the fountain in the east pond.
“They’re removing everything and starting building the walls,” Glewen said.
The walls are already starting to show the new look in the east side pond, while work is underway in the west pond to remove remnants of the older walls that have been put in place over the years.
The fountain was not functional during Wisconsin winters and will not return, Glewen said. It hadn’t worked for years before it was retired.
“There will be a jet on this side, and on the other side will be a water fountain,” Glewen said.
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Events will continue in the park as the project progresses, and Glewen said the project is expected to be complete by the end of July.
“It’s going to be amazing when it’s over,” she said.
The paths around the lagoon will be improved and the poles will now be lit in order to secure the indoor park and prevent vandalism. A bench was donated for the project.
“There will be an oscillating bank which is on the western lagoon,” Glewen said.
There was talk of getting rid of the lagoon area, she said, but people who attended a special town meeting about the park were very supportive of keeping the ponds.
Dodge County Historical Society museum curator Kurt Sampson said the lagoons are original to the park, but originally there were no walls around them when the park was known as Vita Park. Dr. George Swan saw the profit from the spring water bubbling in the ponds and bought the land for a resort. It opened on July 15, 1880. Water was also bottled and sold.
“He developed Vita Resort around the ponds,” Sampson said. “He dredged the ponds and dug them deeper.”
Originally there were three ponds, but the one closest to the spring was filled in and turned into a pool, Sampson said.
Back then, people could use rowboats in the ponds, Sampson said. There were also animals kept in the ponds or on the island over the years.
The complex only existed for 15 years and after some debate the town of Beaver Dam purchased the property, but it was not renovated until 1915. Sampson said that many structures in the park, including the bathrooms for the pool and the bandshell, were added in the 1930s, but the spring house dates from the resort era of the park.
“They put up the stone walls around the ponds in the mid-1930s and they’ve been there ever since,” Sampson said.
Another project that will soon be completed is the wading pool on the south side of the park. Glewen said this was the last year for the park’s wading pool. While the pool served the citizens of the community as a free option for summer recreation for young children, needed repairs on the decades-old pool led to the decision to remove it.
Currently, Glewen said the city is bidding for the splash pad and may reduce the pad’s range to meet budget. However, it is possible that additional donations will be made to the project.
Those wishing to donate to the Swan Park project can go to the city’s website or the Beaver Dam Area Community Foundation page. Donations can be made directly in Swan Park’s name.
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Follow Terri Pederson on Twitter @tlp53916 or contact her at 920-356-6760.