The Ashland City Council last night voted to approve a cooperative agreement with Northern States Power Company-Wisconsin (Xcel Energy) to transfer control of Kreher Park back to the City for the first time since 2012. This marks the successful completion of the soil and sediment remediation at the Ashland Lakefront Project.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in consultation with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, issued a final certificate signifying that the project teams have met or exceeded the goals for the project. The Ashland Lakefront Project site was once a highly industrialized area that included lumbering and railroad operations, a manufactured gas plant, municipal landfill and wastewater treatment plant. 

“The success of this project was due to the strong partnership of our customers in Ashland, our exceptional contractors and the dedicated work of our entire team,” said Mark Stoering, president, Xcel Energy-Wisconsin & Michigan. “What was accomplished over the last several decades is a testament to the innovation and commitment of so many and has become a national model of how to approach a very complex site remediation. Together, we completed the project in a manner that was safe, environmentally-sound, economically balanced and supportive of the City of Ashland’s long-term goals for re-development.” 

Over the past several years, crews have removed thousands of tons of impacted on-shore debris, soils and sediments, installed wells to pump and treat impacted groundwater and restored the area to support the city’s plans. The cooperative agreement allows for future redevelopment without impacting existing elements of the completed remediation. 

Some of the more visible features of the remediation include a 900-ft breakwater and a sheetpile wall that were installed to minimize the impact of near shore waves, and a 12-foot-wide concrete apron along the lake that will help prevent erosion. About 85% of the land is covered in grass with the remaining area finished with gravel for an access road, proposed parking, proposed boat storage and a recreational trail.

For many years, the off-shore area was restricted to boaters, however now that that remediation is complete, recreational water users will be able to use that area for fishing and other water activities. As part of the remediation, the company worked with the WDNR and a local environmental organization to install fish habitat and a sand mixture on the lake bottom to support the development of a sustainable marine ecosystem. 

“It is a great day for Ashland to formalize the ending of the active remediation phase and to once again allow public access to this prime area of our waterfront,” said Mayor Deb Lewis. “We thank Xcel Energy for their remediation efforts, as we look forward to the next phase of redeveloping the site for the benefit of the public.”