Community Projects in Portage | Exciting enhancements!

Community Projects in Portage

We are on the move! Big projects are currently in the works, greatly altering the landscape while enhancing Portage as a great place to live, play and work. These projects will better position Portage to attract new residents along with enriching the lives of current citizens.

canoe/kayak accessible launch in portage, wisconsin image

ACCESSIBLE CANOE & KAYAK LAUNCH

The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce partnered with the Portage Park & Recreation Department and the Portage Service Club Association to bring an accessible canoe/kayak Fox River launch to the wayside across from the Surgeons Quarters along State Highway 33.
Now, thanks to grants from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the Lenz Charitable Trust, financial contributions from Enbridge, Alliant Energy, Portage Elks Lodge #675, and the Rotary Club of Portage, along with General Engineering Company lending a helping hand with design, the launch is moving forward! The community may see completion of the project, which will give everyone the opportunity to explore the Fox River, this summer.

NEW MUNICIPAL BUILDING

The City of Portage will have a new 53,000+ sq. ft. Public Works/Parks & Recreation Building to be located on Cemetery Road between River Street and Highland Avenue. A groundbreaking was held on April 11, 2024.

MURAL PROJECT

The newest mural completed by artist Kelly Meredith, shown left, was installed on the east side of the Crawford Oil & Propane/Crawford Laundromat building, 416 E. Wisconsin Street, in April 2023. The mural theme is a snapshot of life on the canal in early Portage as a sandhill crane peeks in and an eagle soars overhead.

Jon and Jim Crawford commissioned the work which was installed by Tim McTier. This mural follows another of Kelly’s work installed on the south wall of the Cottonwood Bar & Grill, 312 DeWitt St., in downtown Portage in June 2020. That one features the label from Eulberg Brewing Company’s Picnic Beer. The brewery, once located in downtown, closed in 1958.

Kelly has now painted four murals in Portage, with a total of seven in the art form of traditional mural painting done since 2012. Meredith’s other prior murals depict three distinct eras of automobiles and gas stations (NAPA Auto Parts, 125 E. Edgewater St.) and the early people of Portage (Wilz Hometown Pharmacy, 140 E. Cook St.).

Other mural locations with artist in parenthesis: DAAR Engineering, 151 E. Cook St. (Chris Dreyer); 806 Silver Lake Dr. (Charles Bradley); and another at the former U.S. Bank drive-up at 212 W. Edgewater St. (Charles Bradley).

Thank you to the Business Improvement District, City of Portage Tourism, Portage Parks and Recreation, Tyler Hoel of H & M Contracting and Tim McTier.

PORTAGE CENTER FOR THE ARTS

Help put Phase III of their Capital Campaign for Theatre Renovations in motion, which will involve a new backstage wing for enhanced stage access and improved storage, as well as a remodeled sound and light booth. New stage curtains are in store as well. Donate online today, or mail in your gift to PCA at PO Box 866 in Portage, WI  53901.

Phase I brought about a new roof and much less visible structural improvements. Phase II construction, completed in February 2020, added improved ADA accessibility on the Adams Street side of the building, along with an ADA restroom, enlarged foyer, and new flooring in the theatre and gallery. The end of May 2022 brought about new LED lighting throughout the PCA, thanks in part to a grant by the Lenz Charitable Trust.

These upgrades ensure this great asset in our community will be here years in the future. Visit portagecenterforthearts.com.

BOYS AND GIRLS CLUB

The Boys and Girls Club of Portage is opened its doors on May 1, 2023 at the site of the former Rusch Elementary building at 117 W. Franklin Street. A ribbon cutting was held on April 13, 2023 to celebrate the fundraising effort and to welcome the Club as part of our community.

For more information, call the Club at 608-742-6987 or click here.

THE PORTAGE FAMILY SKATE PARK

Phase three construction on the Portage Family Skate Park is complete. A ribbon cutting was held at the site on June 17, 2023 to celebrate the completion of this phase.

The Wisconsin Ready Mixed Concrete Association recognized the Portage Family Skate Park as the winner in the category for Education, Healthcare & Public at its 41st Annual Concrete Design Awards.

The first phase of the skate park was completed back in July 2016 with its concept derived from the sport of curling. The skate park is located adjacent to the Splash Pad at Goodyear Park. For more information about the project, contact Kyle at 608-697-5960.

COLUMBIA COUNTY FAIRGROUNDS

An ambitious plan to reshape the Columbia County Fairgrounds is underway. The multi-phase process includes new lighting and fencing, relocation of the softball diamonds, moving existing buildings, and refurbishing the historic grandstands.

The non-profit organization Save the Grandstand, Inc. is seeking to raise the funds required to refurbish the grandstand at the Columbia County Fairgrounds.

For more information about the overall project, call the Portage Parks and Recreation Department at 608-742-2178.

surgeons quarters

FORT WINNEBAGO SURGEONS QUARTERS

COMPLETED 2022 – The Fort Winnebago Surgeons Quarters underwent a restoration to replace the chinking between the logs on the walls of the Surgeons Quarters cabin. The current chinking was done during initial restoration efforts after the Daughters of the American Revolution purchased the cabin in 1939 and before it opened as a museum in 1954. Work began in April 2021 and is scheduled to end in 2023. The first year of the project, in which Laib Restoration worked on the east and south walls of the cabin, is now complete.

In addition to removing the chinking, Laib Restoration is replacing any sections of the logs that are exhibiting advanced signs of deterioration with new tamarack wood sections. The wood was supplied by the DAR, is cut to size by the workers with machine tools, and then distressed with traditional tools in order to make the new sections resemble the cabin’s historical hand-hewn logs. Also, the white vertical boards on the cabin’s corners are being removed, as they were not part of the cabin’s original 19th-century structure, but were added later in the cabin’s history.

For more information, please visit the Restoration page.

PORTAGE CANAL

The third phase of canal restoration, from Adams Street to the Canadian Pacific Railroad bridge – a 3,600-foot stretch – hadn’t been dredged in nearly a century (photo at right courtesy Entact LLC). Restoration of this section was completed in October 2021.

This included dredging and cleanup of the nearly three-quarter mile section of the Portage Canal. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources provided $4.3 million to cover the cost of the work.

The canal, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is a navigable waterway, though it hasn’t been used in that capacity since 1951. The first phase of the rehabilitation project, the west end of the canal and lock, was completed in 2007.

The second phase of restoration, between DeWitt Street and Adams Street, was completed around 2018, nearly the same time the Columbia County Administration buildings that line that portion of the canal were completed.

PAVILION AT PAUQUETTE PARK; CITY PARK PLAYGROUND UPGRADES

COMPLETED OCTOBER 2020 – The Portage Service Club Association (PSCA), noted for the successful campaign to bring a Splash Pad to reality, has seen its next goal through – a pavilion at Pauquette Park. The beautiful signature park in Portage, Pauquette Park serves as the photographic setting for many weddings, reunions and graduations.

The pavilion provides cover from the elements and attracts families to the community who will stay, shop and eat after watching events. The project also included an expansion of the Ice Age Trail and upgrades to the restroom shelter.

New playground equipment was installed in several parks, including Pauquette Park. Collipp-Worden Park not only received a nice upgrade in playground equipment, but also some new basketball courts, including a Dream Court.

The tennis and basketball courts, combined with the Frisbee golf course, positions Collipp-Worden as one of the top parks when considering the variety of recreational opportunities.

Silver Lake Beach and Sunset Park underwent new playground projects–thanks to a matching grant from the Lenz Charitable Trust to fund $100,000 worth of playground structures at the two parks.

NEW WATER FOUNTAIN

COMPLETED MAY 2019 – The Portage Lions Club worked hard to raise funds for a bubbler at the Splash Pad at Goodyear Park, providing refreshment to the kids and adults who frequent the park.

FOUNTAIN AT BRIDAL POND

COMPLETED JULY 2016 – The Portage Area Chamber of Commerce has reached its goal for funding a new fountain at Bridal Pond at Pauquette Park. The park hosts family reunions, picnics, weddings and more. The fountain and bridges that span the pond have appeared in generations of wedding and senior high photographs.

PORTAGE LIBRARY EXPANSION

COMPLETED 2013–Portage Public Library has a history of strengthening residents of our community, and now is the time for the Library to become the source of creative thinking and information that can prepare us for life throughout the 21st Century. The Portage Public Library Expansion project entailed a roughly 6,500 square-foot addition extending to the end of the block, bringing the total library space to approximately 24,800 square feet. The entire children’s area has now moved to the addition. The new story time room has an adjacent craft room with child-sized tables, chairs, counters, and sinks. The new children’s area is now double the size of the old one, accommodating more resources with less crowding. The renovation of the computer station space increased the number of public use computers. The area that functioned as the Teen Space is now enclosed in glass to create a solarium – a quiet, comfortable area for seniors and adults to sit, drink a cup of coffee, and read a newspaper or magazine. The new design increases the number of meeting rooms from 2 to 6.

SPLASH PAD

COMPLETED, JULY 4, 2013–The Portage Service Club Association saw its goal through! Centrally located in Goodyear Park, the Splash Pad is designed for young children and families. Benches, a shade structure, and a park shelter with restrooms have recently been added.

The Splash Pad will bring many families to the community who will stay, shop and eat.

BIKE RACKS

Avid bikers can rejoice! The Portage Business Improvement District and Portage Parks & Recreation Department installed bike racks in downtown and in parks around town.

Two colors were chosen for the racks — black for the downtown racks and green for the park racks. The invitation for cyclists to come to Portage and our county is wide open as Columbia County boasts a system of bike loops, including four loops that pass through Portage. Bike loop maps are available in the Chamber office.

SILVER LAKE BEACH SHELTER & RETAINING WALL

Those enjoying the summer sun at Silver Lake Beach will notice a couple upgrades. The construction of a new Silver Lake Beach shelter, featuring a concession area, changing rooms and storage area, was completed in 2012. A new retaining wall was constructed to replace the old wall in 2015.

WISCONSIN RIVER WATCH HOUSE

COMPLETED IN OCTOBER 2013 – The reconstruction of the Wisconsin River watch house located along the levee walkway.