South Park’s new pavilion is under construction and scheduled to be completed in time for Waupaca’s Fourth of July celebration.
“Right now, we’re still set to complete it by July 1,” said Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson. “The playground equipment has also been ordered. City crews will be installing the playground sometime in June, closer to when the construction project is done.”
The city is receiving a lot of questions about when the pavilion will be done.
“We haven’t rented it out this summer,” he said. “Once we know for sure when it’s done, we’ll open it up for rentals.”
The old restrooms in the park were torn down in early March, and construction of the new pavilion began on March 20.
Jenson said the city considered remodeling the old restrooms.
“They were so narrow. We couldn’t make them ADA accessible,” he said.
The new pavilion will include a kitchen area and restrooms, Jenson said.
That means South Park will continue to have three restroom facilities.
The other restrooms are located in the beach house and in the park’s lower shelter.
The work under way in the park is the first phase of improvements that are part of an overall four-phase project for Waupaca’s oldest park. The cost of the entire project is estimated at $1.5 million.
The budget for the first phase is projected to be $695,000.
The funding for it includes a $339,150 Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Stewardship Grant and $230,000 in private donations.
Funding sources for the first phase also include $12,000 from the park’s operating account, $25,000 from the city park fee account, $12,000 from the development department’s operating account, $15,000 from the Friends of the Parks, $16,000 from the city’s water utility account, $16,000 from the city’s storm sewer account, $15,000 from the city’s street sidewalk account and $15,000 from the Rick Johnson Donation Account.
Jenson said the city is also getting quotes from a number of irrigation companies.
The first phase of the project includes irrigating the hillside that looks over Shadow Lake.
While construction takes place at South Park, Waupaca Foundry is also working on the community art structure that will be placed in the park.
At last August’s Arts on the Square, community members were able to etch designs into clay tiles.
A total of 216 tiles were completed and will be part of the structure.
The city, Foundry and Waupaca Community Arts Board are working together on this project.
“Marci Reynolds and the arts board have really taken a lead on that project,” Jenson said. “It’s a good example of a collaboration of a lot of groups that wouldn’t normally work in the same circle.”
The Waupaca Community Arts Board sponsors Arts on the Square and decided to have a portable foundry at last year’s arts festival.
Representatives from the Foundry and city worked with artists.
Michael Hemmila, the Foundry’s assistant maintenance manager, said the tiles have been cleaned and ground.
The stainless studs have been ordered and will be welded on after the arts board identifies proper orientation. Vendors have been contacted in regard to their responsibilities for the project, he said.
Hemmila said all stainless materials for the remainder of the project should be ordered by the end of this month.
The stainless steel structure will weigh over a ton.
There will be six rings of tiles.
Initially, plans called for the structure to look like a wall.
“The problem was each tile was different in dimension in thickness,” Hemmila said. “We went through four revisions before we came up with the final one.”
Jenson said the structure will be placed on top of a circular concrete pad where the old restrooms were located in the park.
“It overlooks the lake,” he said of the area. “They’ll basically put the whole thing together at the Foundry. We’ll set it in place with city crews.”
As work continues in the park, the city is also preparing for Phase Two of the project.
The city has received a $94,240 DNR grant for that phase. It will fund 50 percent of the total cost of the second phase of the park project, which is $188,480.
The second phase of the overall park renovation will improve the parking lot, install lighting in the lot and throughout the park and undertake shoreline restoration and trail upgrades.
Jenson said the reconfiguration of the parking lot will improve safety.
“John Edlebeck (the city’s director of public works) will be instrumental in laying out the parking lot. We will start that planning process in fall. That work will likely be done next summer.”
In addition, the city is seeking a $19,219 Sport Fish Restoration Grant from the DNR that would allow for an ADA-accessible fishing pier to be built on the shore of Shadow Lake, across from Bowersox Park.
“We are awaiting word on that one,” Jenson said.
He said South Park needs to be updated, and the project is a true team effort.
It involves the city administrator, parks and recreation, public works, development department, and the private donors, who it would not have been possible without, he said.
“We’re excited for it to be done,” Jenson said of the first phase of improvements. “It’s a great project. I think it’ll be great for the community. It’ll get a lot of use.”