"It will be a huge and costly undertaking, so we'll have to bring the camp back in phases," says park manager Gary Jones. "Our short-term plan is to focus on the five B-unit cabins. Hopefully, by this time next year, at least some of those five will be restored to the point where we can rent them out as rustic cabins" without water or power.
That work will likely cost "in the ballpark of $100K," Jones guesses, based on how much it cost for park staff to restore one cabin before the October cleanup. The goal is to finish the interiors of the cabins, fix up roofs, and furnish them next spring.
A complete restoration of the camp would take much more cash and likely another three to five years. "Ultimately, budget willing, the long-term goal would be to get the full facility restored and to get it back to its intended use as a way to get urban youth outdoors," says Jones. But to do that, "we need to bring water, sewer, and power back to the cabins."
Revenue generated from rustic cabin rentals would go into Waterloo's park budget. Potentially, some money could also come from the DNR Recreation Passport, which lets residents pay for parks access when they renew their vehicle registrations. "A percentage is dedicated to historical and cultural resources, so we are hoping some of that money will be used on Mill Lake," Jones says.