We will start construction on a Welcome Center beginning in the Spring of 2015. This project will include refurbishing the existing farm house porch. A centralized, year-round office and meeting space will allow us to provide greater services to all guests during our open season, and will be a much welcomed addition to Blue Lotus. This will enable us to be more of a presence in the local community, and be more efficient in our day to day operations. Historically, administrative functions have operated offsite, in donated space.
Blue Lotus began developing a rewarding relationship with the students and faculty of the Milwaukee School of Engineering (MSOE). Under the guidance of DeAnna Leitzke, a faculty advisor of the Servant Leadership Program, MSOE students began an ambitious multiphase project designing and engineering a deck and boardwalk to be built along the south-east shore of Blue Lotus Lagoon.
PHASE ONE: A fifty foot boardwalk (built of pressure treated yellow pine) leads from the Four Seasons Pavilion to a curvaceous, guitar-shaped deck (made of cambara wood) that overlooks the lagoon. A smaller ramp hugs the south-east shore allowing visitors to access the deck from the dock area. Benches, railings and specialty lighting make the deck a perfect place to fish, sun bathe, or simply soak in the beauty of Blue Lotus Lagoon. The boardwalk and deck are fully wheelchair accessible. MSOE students not only designed and engineered this complex construction project, they volunteered their time and labor, working through wind, rain, and freezing weather, to complete this delightful addition to the Blue Lotus experience.
MSOE’s Servant Leadership Program contributed half the funds, Blue Lotus matched their gift with funds donated by our many contributors. MSOE students provided 100% of the labor, energy and enthusiasm. Blue Lotus is profoundly grateful to the students and faculty of the Milwaukee School of Engineering for this generous gift.
During the Fall of 2014, a section of Phase One required repair after it has begun to sag from the freeze and thaw over the years. The deck was successfully repaired by MSOE students guided by the expertise of engineers from J3 Engineering Group, LLC.
Project Cost: $7,500 (materials only)
PHASE TWO: A curving boardwalk continues west, through reeds and water lilies, leading to the Pergola with benches, railings and specialty lighting. The Pergola, approximately 260 square feet in size, provides a perfect place for quiet conversations, or strumming a guitar. The boardwalk and Pergola are fully wheelchair accessible.
Project Cost: $3,500 (materials only)
PHASE THREE (started in 2012, to be completed in 2015): Phase three extends the boardwalk fifty feet in a westerly direction, hugging the shore of Blue Lotus Lagoon. Made of recycled decking, the new boardwalk is five feet wide, built low to the ground, with safety bumpers along the sides for visitors in wheelchairs. The next part of phase three will continue the boardwalk another 30 feet, wrapping around a native elm, creating a turnaround that is both convenient and aesthetically pleasing. This next section of boardwalk will have benches and offer a lovely view of the lagoon. 1000 linear feet of recycled decking was donated by Bliffert Lumber. All labor was generously donated by the students and faculty of MSOE. Additional costs were paid for by Blue Lotus contributors.
Project Cost: $900 (materials only)
As any avid gardener can tell you, working the earth with your hands heals the soul, heart and mind. In 2009, raised planting beds were designed and built by Michael Best & Friedrich law student volunteers. Raised beds at two different heights, accessible while sitting or standing, along with trellises for climbing plants, are available to any of our clients who might like to try gardening as an optional activity.
Ed Miller, then President of the Metropolitan Builder's Association of Wisconsin, invited Blue Lotus to submit an application for their annual Philanthropic Project Committee Award. After receiving this invitation, the founders of Blue Lotus began dreaming about an indoor space, large enough for a wide variety of workshops and classes, yet small enough to be cozy on a rainy summer day. The Four Seasons Pavilion became a reality when the Philanthropic Committee selected Blue Lotus for the 2007 award.
Built entirely through the generosity of the Metropolitan Builders’ Association of Wisconsin, the Four Seasons Pavilion includes office space, storage space, two roomy bathrooms with showers, each fully wheelchair accessible, and a full service kitchen. The activities room looks out through wall-sized windows onto the picnic grounds and a field of wild prairie flowers. Approximately 2,000 square feet of wide open space makes the activities room ideal for arts and crafts, healing workshops, yoga and dance classes, impromptu concerts, and, yes, even the occasional sleep over.
A large screened-in porch on the north side of the pavilion protects fair-skinned visitors from the sun, and from the occasional unwanted assault by pesky mosquitoes. Concrete decking, on the northeast side of the building, provides outdoor picnic space for guests who need solid, even surfaces for maneuverability.
The Four Seasons Pavilion, a brick and mortar dream come true, has allowed Blue Lotus to offer a higher level of hospitality while providing activities for visitors on the rare occasions when Mother Nature lets us down. Blue Lotus is indebted to the designers, builders, and vendors of the Metropolitan Builders Association, 2007, Philanthropic Project Committee for this magnanimous gift.
A storage space (approximately four hundred square feet) was built in the north-west corner of the upper barn. Secure and critter free, this locked area is used to store tools and maintenance equipment; pool accessories such as floating rafts, and inner tubes; and outdoor activities equipment including yard games, bicycles, life jackets, oars, paddles, bows, arrows, and archery targets. Defining this safe and dry storage space, inside the barn, proved to be a cost-effective way to care for all the valuable equipment that provides a full outdoor experience for our visitors. The equipment storage room was built by Blue Lotus volunteers. All materials were donated by Bliffert Lumber.
As the number of visitors increased, it became clear that additional comfort facilities were required. Constructed of cement block and Douglas fir (donated by Bliffert Lumber), with a green metal, all-weather roof, the Apple Orchard Bathhouse is named for a small apple orchard that used to grace the property. The bathhouse contains two bathrooms; each is mobility accessible, completely private and offers plenty of space to move around. One of the bathrooms offers a wheelchair accessible shower. The Apple Orchard Bathhouse is accessible from all parts of the property. Completed in July of 2006, the bathhouse was funded by private donations, and proceeds from silent auctions in 2004 and 2005. Many thanks to everyone who helped to make this project a reality.
To reach Blue Lotus from Highway M you must follow a winding gravel drive, more than one-half mile in length. Surrounded on both sides by deep thickets of birch, elm and pine, the drive often floods in early spring; over time these floods took their toll. In July, 2005, the driveway was in severe need of repair. Heavy-duty machinery and thirty-one truckloads of crushed rock were required to grade the drive, and cover it in fresh gravel. Blue Lotus will forever be grateful to an anonymous donor who paid for the entire cost of the driveway restoration.
A new floating dock was installed to replace the old stationary dock. Large enough for wheelchairs to make turnabouts, the new dock fulfills all ADA requirements, including bumpers to provide additional wheelchair safety. Made of high quality resin, the floating system requires no maintenance, and has a 40-50 year life expectancy. As an additional bonus, the components are easily reconfigured should requirements at Blue Lotus Lagoon change at some point in the future. The dock was funded through private donations, and participation at the July 10th, 2004 silent auction. Many thanks to everyone who helped make this project a reality.
The deck/dock also has been funded through private donations as well as contributions accrued through our first annual silent auction.
To ensure the safety of all visitors, a fence was designed and installed around the kidney shaped swimming pool. Nylon mesh was selected because it provides strength, and durability, while requiring little or no maintenance. The finished fence is four feet high and approximately 230 feet in length. Two gates, with safety locks, offer easy access to the pool; each is wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs of all sizes. Most importantly, the translucent mesh blends seamlessly into the natural beauty of the environment. The swimming pool enclosure was funded by cash donations, and participation at the July 10th, 2004 silent auction. Many thanks to everyone who supported this important project.
The beauty of the natural landscape at Blue Lotus has been enhanced, over the years, by the addition of native plants, shrubs, and flowers. Numerous flowers beds, and dozens of flowering container plants are lovingly cultivated by Blue Lotus volunteers. Each spring we request donations of plants and flowers for the beds and containers in order to maintain an attractive and relaxing space for our visitors.
The driveway, which is .7 miles long, requires regular maintenance, including annual grading and weekly pruning of the trees, vines & vegetation along its borders. This ensures visiting groups can safely arrive and depart for their outings at Blue Lotus.
The existing pathways and trails require regular maintenance, including mowing, trimming and re-grading when necessary. Navigating the trails is a favorite past time of our visitors, so keeping the trails in tip-top shape is very important.
Future projects include updates to the barn, specifically a poured concrete floor over the current dirt floor. The barn is used to store all gardening/yard tools and equipment. It is also used to protect the investment of pool components including the pump, filter and heater.
Through the generosity of all of our contributors, both individual and corporate, Blue Lotus has been able to complete many dream projects, but there are many more waiting in the wings. If you would like to join us in making the next set of capital projects become a reality, please contact us today!
Blue Lotus Farm and Retreat Center is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt charitable organization (EIN#43-1989545).
All gifts to Blue Lotus are tax deductible within IRS guidelines.