We’re excited to share the good news that Groundswell recently helped the Town of Westport purchase 105 acres once proposed for a large bakery.

The property at the corner of County M and Woodland Drive was owned by the principals of Bagels Forever and zoned for a bagel factory for many years but was recently put on the market.  A mix of grassland, wetlands and oak woods, the land is bordered by the Westport Town Hall on one side and the DNR’s Six Mile Creek Fishery Area on the other.

“For the 30 years I’ve been associated with the town, I’ve often looked out the window of the Board Room and thought how wonderful if we could protect that land,” said Dean Grosskopf, Westport Administrator/Clerk-Treasurer and former town chair. “Now, to see everything fall in place in just nine months, has been nothing short of a miracle.”

With the open space addition, there’s now an almost unbroken corridor of protected public land around the north side of Lake Mendota, stretching from Governor Nelson State Park to Wisconsin 113.

Groundswell supported the purchase by helping to negotiate a large cash donation for the property from Steve and Marianne Schlecht. We are so grateful to the Schlechts for making this important land purchase possible!

Photo credit: Town of Westport

To ensure the property is never developed, the Town of Westport granted a conservation easement to Groundswell Conservancy.  The easement will maintain the conservation values and access for public recreation and enjoyment.

“The days of acquiring such a large property so close to Lake Mendota are quickly passing,” said Mike Foy, our Land Protection Specialist. “This acquisition by Westport — with support from Groundswell Conservancy and our generous supporters — will benefit wildlife, wetlands, water quality, and public recreation for generations to come.”

The land will be added to the Westport park system and provide additional space for organized recreation next to the existing soccer fields. The town will also maintain a large conservation area to provide wildlife and pollinator habitat, protect wetlands and reduce storm water runoff to improve Lake Mendota water quality.

Moving forward, Groundswell will assist the town in financing the purchase via available local, county, state, and federal funding sources. Depending upon grants received, the town will need to raise between $1 million and $2 million in private funds.

You can support the purchase of this important parkland addition by making a tax-deductible gift to the Town of Westport. Checks should be made out to the Town of Westport, attention Dean Grosskopf, Treasurer, noting it is a Parkland donation. Donors will receive a donation acknowledgement for their gift.

Thank you again to Steve and Marianne Schlecht, the Town of Westport, and our Groundswell supporters for making this important conservation project possible. We could not have done it without you!