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08/14/18

Tong Family makes million-dollar gift towards realization of Hoofer Marina Project

Peter and Janet Tong, through the Tong Family Foundation, have given a million-dollar gift towards the construction of the Hoofer Marina Project, a new pier system along the Memorial Union lakefront.

The Project will transform the lakefront with improvements in safety, accessibility and sustainability and will benefit thousands of Hoofer Sailing Club members each year.

The Wisconsin Union will name the marina the “Tong Family Marina” in honor of the family’s generosity and the Tong family’s love of spending time on the water.

Peter Tong graduated from UW-Madison in 1965 with a master’s degree in electrical engineering. Peter was an avid sailor with the Wisconsin Hoofer Sailing Club. Janet also attended UW-Madison, earning a master’s degree in family and consumer education, then known as home economics education, from the School of Human Ecology and also graduated in 1965.

The Tong family’s generous gift will help ensure generations of future Hoofer Sailing Club members will have experiences for a lifetime at the Memorial Union lakefront.

“The lakefront is a vital part of the campus, both physically and visually,” Janet Tong said.

The Union expects construction on the project to begin with the removal of the existing piers in fall 2018. The marina is expected to reopen in summer 2019.

The project will including the following efforts:

  • Replace decades-old Hoofer pier structures and restore the adjacent shoreline
  • Create eight new pier elements, including a state-of-the-art floating t-pier to house the Sailing Team’s fleet of 420s and the inimitable Badger Techs 
  • Create better storage for boats and piers, on and off season, which will lessen traffic congestion along the Lakeshore Path 
  • Create a 330 foot long by 24 foot wide greenspace and promenade along the Lakeshore Path
  • Install a new davit crane that will facilitate safer, more efficient transport of boats to and from the water 
  • Allow for greater accessibility to piers and boats for members with disabilities
  • Provide space for a growing fleet of instructional safety boats

“The new marina will represent a major step forward in our ability to provide safe, enjoyable and educational access to Lake Mendota,” Wisconsin Union Director Mark Guthier said. “Badgers’ memories of the lakefront are some of their most cherished at the Union – and the Tong Family Marina will now provide a beautiful access point for those memories. We are extremely fortunate to work with the Tong family to bring the new marina to life.”

The Tong family and those who have given to the Marina Project are helping continue the Hoofer Sailing Club’s decades-long tradition of helping students and community members enjoy Lake Mendota.

“We hope that a well-appointed, safe and beautiful marina will entice more people to try sailing and other water sports, discovering the joys of being out on the water,” Janet Tong said.

The Wisconsin Union’s Hoofer Sailing Club promotes sailing at UW-Madison by providing sailing equipment and instruction to its 1,000 members. Since 1939, the Club has provided affordable, accessible sailing programs to campus and community. The Club offers lessons in everything from wind surfing to scow and keelboat sailing.

“We can trace our family’s love of water and boating and the camaraderie found among our boat crews and guests back to Lake Mendota and the Hoofer Club sailing,” Janet Tong said.

The Wisconsin Union team is grateful to Janet, Peter and their children Sarah Sangmeister, Jennifer Tong Carlisle ’94, Jessica Tong Baron and David Tong ’05 for their continued support of the Wisconsin Union, Wisconsin Hoofers and outdoor recreation.

Those interested in learning more about or donating to the Marina Project may visit union.wisc.edu/get-involved/donate.