Changes slated for Amnicon Falls State ParkMADISON – A new entrance station and automated pay kiosk will greet visitors to Amnicon Falls State Park in April 2014, part of a $643,600 project the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources detailed Wednesday.
By: By Kevin Murphy/For the Telegram, Superior Telegram
MADISON – A new entrance station and automated pay kiosk will greet visitors to Amnicon Falls State Park in April 2014, part of a $643,600 project the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources detailed Wednesday.
The current visitor entrance station will be removed and further inside the park a 2,134-square-foot building will be constructed where campers can register and get park information. Part of the structure will be used as a shop for park maintenance equipment.
The existing visitor station site will be converted for recreational vehicle and bus parking and the first self-serve electronic payment station installed in a Wisconsin state park, said Kimberly Currie, business manager for the park system.
“It would be similar to an automated pay station you see at parking ramps where you pay with a credit card. Here you’ll get your park admission or trail pass dispensed from an electronic kiosk. We’re hoping to accept both cash and credit but it would be a self-service model rather than having an attendant there which is typical of our other parks,” Currie said.
Amnicon Falls was chosen for the first payment kiosk because its small visitor entrance station is in the Amnicon River floodplain and the DNR can’t build there when it replaces the 41-year-old visitor station, Currie said.
The State Building Commission authorized spending $30,000 to hire a project architect and not until after they asked why the DNR doesn’t use more “off-the-shelf” plans for visitor entrance stations at its many parks and fee areas.
“Are we trying to save money or not?” asked State Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center.
The DNR uses existing plans for facilities when possible, said Missy Vanlandyt, a DNR planner, but Amnicon presents some site issues due to past flooding and it needs less office space than other parks because it has only one permanent employee.
Savings at Amnicon will come from combining the camper registration, administrative office and garage in one building, said Parks Director Daniel Schuller.
The current visitor station doesn’t have plumbing or central heat. More office space is needed for administration and law enforcement duties and because of increased park visitation.
Visitation has increased 178 percent between 1990 and 2008, when 84,000 visitors were recorded and $92,000 in revenue was generated at the 825-acre park that has 36 campsites, according to the DNR.
“Attendance is up in almost all of our parks. We’ve done really well this year; attendance has never been higher and our revenue has never been better,” said Schuller. “We’re average 14.2 million visitors statewide, and Amnicon is very successful because it’s part of the Lake Superior Circle Tour.”
Amnicon has a relatively small campground but it’s a vital resource to campers during the summer, he added.
Getting the right visitors station design has taken awhile because of the past flooding issues there but Schuller is confident that the final design should withstand further commission review and construction can begin in August 2013.
The park is located about seven miles east of the Superior city limits, just east of the intersection of US Highway 53 and US Highway 2 along County Highway U.