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Politics & Government

Sale of Cranberry Island on Eagle River Chain off the table

Cranberry Lake on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes.
Ben Meyer
Cranberry Lake on the Eagle River Chain of Lakes.

The sale of 44-acre Cranberry Island on the Eagle River chain of lakes is officially off the table after the Vilas County Forestry, Recreation, and Land Committee voted last week to remove sale but keep the island on their agenda.

The popular island has a boarding pier, a couple of picnic tables, fire rings, and two grills, one of which is broken off. Staff claim the pier is in poor shape, which was reputed by Dean Shaffer, owner of Gypsy Villa on the Oneida County side of the island.

“This is the most neglected park you have,” Schaffer told the committee, saying he inspected the island the day before this committee meeting. “I see nothing wrong with the pier. It’s hard to believe the county staff.”

He admitted there were issues that the county needed to address.

“There is no beach and a serious erosion problem, and the outhouse is full. Why fire rings, why grills? No one is going to bring firewood out there. You don’t have any new samplings cause visitors cut them for marshmallow sticks,” said Schaffer. “You do need new sign boards and you need to post rules for the park.”

Committee chair Holly Tomlanovich said, “maintenance and upkeep requires more staffing.

She said the county has asked the Eagle River chain association for help. Asked what the expenditures were for the past two years, Tomlanovich said, “there was no single line item for the island.”

Town of Washington chairman Jim Egan indicated he received many phone calls and e-mails.

“The word ‘sell’ needs to be taken off the table,” Egan said. “We can’t forget Cranberry Island. Get an opinion from Inland Lake Dredge & Dock Works on the condition of the pier.”

Tomlanovich agreed the county had a responsibility to maintain the island but needed a plan of action to determine what the county can do and what it will cost.

A motion was made and seconded to take the sale of Cranberry Island “off the table but keep the island on the agenda” which was adopted 4-0.

Chuck Berg of the Eagle River Chain of Lakes Association volunteered their group to help. “We have 1,000 members and we love the island so if there is something we can do, let us know.”

Tomlanovich indicated “the best way is to go out there and take a look” which is a reversal of her statement several meetings ago when it was suggested the committee meet on the island and her response was “it’s not going to happen.”

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