The first phase of a South Park renovation project could begin as early as next spring.
The city learned this month it may receive a $309,500 grant for the project.
The Wisconsin Stewardship Grant will go toward the Phase 1 cost of the project, which is estimated at $619,000.
The overall cost of the project – which will be done in four phases – is projected to be $1.5 million.
“It’s an exciting project for the community. It’s a park that’s needed upgrades for a long time,” said Russ Montgomery, the city’s parks superintendent and acting parks and recreation director.
South Park is the city’s oldest park. It was established in 1907 and was voted Waupaca’s No. 1 park in 2011.
City Administrator Henry Veleker said the next step in the stewardship grant process is for it to go through the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.
He said the committee will look at the planned park project because the grant is greater than $250,000.
“It’s typically a routine approval,” Veleker said.
That meeting is expected to take place in early October.
The first phase of the project will include construction of a new shelter/bathroom facility, new playground equipment, picnic tables, waste and recycling bins, benches, utilities, lighting and a fishing pier on Shadow Lake, across from Bowersox Park.
Veleker said the important part of the project are the private dollars that have been committed to help fund it.
Plans call for a total of $500,000 to be raised in private funds over the next five years to pay one-third of the total cost of renovating South Park, he said.
“The goal is to raise the other one-third through grants. We are 60 percent there with this grant,” he said. “The balance will be through the city in in-kind labor, materials and a land donation.”
The city’s in-kind donations would cover about $110,000 of the cost of Phase 1, with $200,000 in private funding also going toward the $619,000 cost.
Committed to raising the private dollars is Archie Overby, president of First National Bank,
“Henry came to me several months ago with this plan to do some renovations at South Park, to make if more children-friendly, better for children,” Overby said.
Over the years, whether it has been Little League, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or parks and recreation, Overby has been interested in helping make the community better for young people.
He told Veleker that he would be happy to help find private donors for the project at South Park.
Overby said South Park is a tremendous resource.
“It needs a little buffing and shining,” he said. “I’m excited about the project.”
Next up for the city is to contact engineering firms to do a final plan and design.
Veleker said Rettler Corp., of Stevens Point, did a conceptual plan but that a requirement of the grant is to seek proposals.
In addition, a committee will need to be established to manage the project.
The goal is to seek bids for Phase 1 no later than next February or March.
The city proposes to build the new shelter and fishing pier in house; some of that work could take place over this winter.
Montgomery said the goal is to build a larger, four-season shelter.
“We’ve been talking about it three years,” Velecker said of the park project. “It’s speaks to how generous this community is.”