Businesses say new park plans in Somerset, WI would disrupt Apple River tubing

A legal battle is brewing in Somerset, Wisconsin where a city park renovation threatens to leave tubing businesses high and dry.

The village says the new park plan, which was approved Tuesday night, is unrelated to problems on the river. But at least one tubing business sees it as a direct attack.

Steve Kaufman bought River’s Edge campground last fall and promptly found himself in the middle of an Apple River drama that’s been growing for years.

“They’re a little tense, obviously people’s livelihood and businesses are on the line, so I guess I wouldn’t expect anything else,” says Kaufman of village council meetings, like the one Tuesday night.

All four of the tubing businesses around Somerset use River’s Edge’s to put in, but River’s Edge tubers and those from the Hideaway Campground exit the Apple River at Somerset’s Village Park.

In the wake of exploring how to clean up the river, after years of problems with beer cans and behavior in the water and in the park, the village began exploring how to renovate it. Now they have three plans for a village park overhaul that remove the tubing exit.

The owner of the Hideaway Campground, Mike Kappers, has threatened lawsuits and on the village’s Tuesday agenda, there was a closed-door meeting “regarding litigation which it is likely to become involved.”

As for Kaufman, he’s staying out of that fight is optimistic he can work something out. “I think the park redevelopment is a good idea, and we hope to be a part of that somehow, some way."