Potawatomi tower. DNR photo

STURGEON BAY — The state has taken the next step in the process to repair or replace the aging Potawatomi Observation Tower at Potawatomi State Park, and Gov. Tony Evers pledged to include the project in the next state budget.

In a visit Monday to Door County, Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole, announced the administration has selected GRAEF to provide pre-design through construction services on the Potawatomi Observation Tower at Potawatomi State Park.

GRAEF will now begin work on formulating two design plans for the Potawatomi Observation Tower. One design that restores the existing tower and a second design that replaces the existing structure with new materials while maintaining the tower’s historic character.

The governor also announced his commitment to include the project in his 2023-25 Capital Budget. The announcement follows the DNR’s recent Request for Architectural and Engineering Services, marking the next step in advancing the project.

“With today’s announcement, we are one step closer to revitalizing the Potawatomi Tower to ensure that every Wisconsinite can enjoy the tower for generations to come,” said Gov. Evers. “Because of the actions we have taken to ensure the historic character of the tower is preserved while expanding accessibility for all visitors, I am also happy to commit today that the project will be included in my 2023-25 Capital Budget proposal. It is my hope that with all the public support and the work of the DNR and the Department of Administration that this project will garner widespread bipartisan support in the next capital budget.”

Both designs will include cost estimates and proposed timelines for completion of the project. Following the completion of the concept designs, the DNR will solicit feedback from residents on the best design option for the park and community to be included in the governor’s 2023-25 Capital Budget proposal. 

“Public feedback has informed this process from the beginning and with this contract the public will again be able to weigh in specifically on what the future of the Potawatomi Tower will look like,” said DNR Secretary Cole. “The DNR looks forward to GRAEF completing their work, and thanks the governor for again showing his support of our state parks, and specifically Potawatomi State Park, by committing to include this project in the upcoming Capital Budget.”

GRAEF was founded in 1961 in Milwaukee and has grown into a national firm. GRAEF has three locations in Wisconsin and has successfully completed numerous contracts for the state. The firm has expertise on structural assessments, firsthand knowledge of this project and tower site, and expertise in historic buildings and wood structures. 



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By Dan Plutchak

Dan Plutchak, born and raised in Kaukauna, is cofounder of Kaukauna Community News.