Abbey Marina Wins Building and Growing Award

Abbey Marina of Fontana, Wisconsin, received the Building and Growing Award at last year’s Marina of the Year awards ceremony. The facility was recognized for the many renovations it has undertaken using careful planning, being mindful of the needs and wants of today’s customers and finding creative funding methods so as not to turn the costs back to their customers.

Abbey Marina is a large facility with 417 wet slips and a host of amenities for its many boaters including showers and changing rooms, a heated pool, a full-service bar, event area, private security officers and more. The owners are always looking at ways to renovate the property and facilities to provide the best use for their customers.

Boat storage is paramount for what attracts customers and Abbey Marina is cognizant of that. The marina undertook a complete replacement of all docks in 2018 turning to concrete decking, upgraded all electrical and water systems, installed more than 2,000 linear feet of composite sheet piling to replace aging timber, replaced 3,700 linear feet of sidewalk and expanded the walkways to 8 feet to accommodate larger dockboxes and electrical pedestals, as well as increase accessibility for emergency and wheelchair access.

To limit the time the marina had to be closed to customers, the work was scheduled over the winter; however, the harsh winters also factored into how much time the project would require. Ed Snyder, harbormaster at Abbey Marina, said the marina closed in October 2017 and reopened in May 2018 due to a mild winter and because they brought in 80 to 90 workers each day to ensure work was completed as fast as possible.

The renovation of the docks has already paid off. Snyder said in the middle of May, the marina closed on a slip for $179,000, which was the highest sale the facility has ever seen. He said overall the slip values have jumped by more than 50 percent on both leased and since the renovations.

The new docks put in at Abbey Marina were made wider than the old docks to accommodate dock boxes and enhance accessibility

The marina renovation was phase one of a planned three-phase project.
Synder said the marina started talking about repairing the piers about 10 years ago. “At that time we sat down to put a plan together of what we wanted and then we hired engineers to do the studies and assessment, for the clubhouse and pool too. We knew the pool had to come soon after piers. Those were our two big things,” Snyder said.

The plan, which was mostly put together by Snyder and the vice president of the member association, made of slipholders who own their slips. put before the association’s board of directors for final approval. The board of directors are all slip owners at the facility and, according to Snyder, are supportive because they have a vested interest in having a first-class facility.

This year the marina is taking on phase two. Renovations to the pool will increase the size by 30 percent, and build an outdoor tanning deck, an outdoor pavilion and a prep kitchen. The existing pool is about 25 years old and just 1,400 square feet. The pool will be expanded to 2,000 square feet, and the deck will accommodate additional seating for 50 to 60 people.

“When my dad ran the marina most customers were overnighters here for the weekend. Now we have more day boaters that come for the day to use their boat and the amenities. We know we have to make amenities high-end and resort style, which is what we’re doing with the pool,” Snyder said.

With that in mind a snack area that had vending machines and limited seating was turned into the West End Bar. A boat shaped bar that replicates an old Chris Craft is the feature of the room along with several televisions. Pizza, items from the grill and a coffee bar are all part of the provisions along with a fully stocked bar. The transformation turned a little used room into a popular boater lounge.

As another amenity to help ensure boaters will spend more time at the marina instead of just using it to store their boat, a 54-foot by 30-foot deck was built off the Harbor House room overlooking the marina. The area is used for private events like rehearsal dinners. A new outdoor bar and restrooms were also built in the heart of the marina to provide a gathering area that was closer to the boats.

Snyder said that careful planning with the operations budget as well as fundraising events has meant the cost for the renovations has not required passing the cost on to the customers. To supplement the operations budget, this year the marina is putting together a commemorative brick patio where companies and individuals can buy bricks that will have their names imprinted on them on the patio. It is also offering naming rights to its new pavilion.

The renovations are not quite over.

“In the near future we’ll start in on the clubhouse which will be phase 3 of our plan. But that’s a few years down the road. It’s the next and final for awhile,” Snyder said.