Those who visit the city of Waupaca’s parks this spring and summer will see plenty of new additions in the system.
While playgrounds, ball fields and fishing piers began attracting people weeks ago, the city’s parks officially opened for the season on May 1.
Visitors will immediately notice the new batting cages and renovated fishing pier and watch other projects take place.
“Our department would like to thank people for supporting and using our park system. We just ask that it be used in a safe and a respectful manner throughout the season. We hope everyone enjoys all the amenities that have been made possible by community support in our park system,” said Parks and Recreation Director Aaron Jenson.
The city’s parks are open daily from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Riverview Park is the exception to those hours. It closes at 8 p.m.
South Park’s beach opens on Memorial Day weekend. Lifeguards are on duty from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Jenson reminds area residents that alcohol is not allowed in the parks, unless a beer permit is purchased in conjunction with the rental of a park shelter.
He encourages those who see damaged property in the parks to contact the parks department.
“If it looks like a police matter, contact them as well,” Jenson said.
At South Park, this season will mark the first full one with the new pavilion and playground, part of the first phase of improvements made possible there through private donations, state grants and city funds.
Upper South Park is also the home of an art piece, the result of a collaboration involving Waupaca Foundry, the Waupaca Community Arts Board and the Parks and Recreation Department.
The foundry also donated funds for the renovation of the Lower South Park fishing pier.
This week, the Upper South Park parking lot is being reconfigured, and 12 LED decorative light fixtures and poles will soon appear as well.
That is part of the park’s Phase 2 improvements.
Jenson said the lighting will begin by the Hutchinson House, go to the pavilion and playground and then down to the beach house.
The beach house is also getting a new apoxy floor and new shower fixtures, at the request of donors, and will take place this month.
Phase 2 also includes shoreline restoration along Shadow Lake, at Lower South Park.
“The area will be where the volleyball court is. We will be relocating the court and restore the area to a wetland area,” Jenson said.
During heavier rains, half of the volleyball court was under water.
“It will be an educational piece,” he said. “It will be an example for other landowners around Shadow and Mirror lakes. It will include signage about the benefits of the restoration project.”
A Waupaca High School class will be involved in the work, later this month.
The city is also the recipient of grant dollars to assist in a Phase 3 project.
That project will be a new fishing pier, on the southwest portion of Shadow Lake at Bowersox Park.
“There is no timetable yet,” Jenson said of that project.
At Swan Park, a donation from the Waupaca Youth Baseball Association resulted in the addition of two new batting cages.
They are behind fields 2 and 3, off of the new parking lot at the base of the new sled hill.
Jenson said part of the new parking lot included paving an additional 110 feet for a basketball court.
“It will be put in this summer,” he said. “There will be two courts, so four total hoops.”
The parking lot and basketball court were part of the Beneficial Reuse Management project, which also included the sled hill.
Foundry sand from Waupaca Foundry was used for the project, thus no taxpayer dollars were part of those projects.
Jenson said there will also be a new irrigated Tee Ball area in the park.
“It will be off the northeast part of the sled hill. We’re moving that whole program to the back of the park,” he said.
Brainard’s Bridge Park also features newer amenities thanks to the former Waupaca Jaycees donating funds for the park’s new playground.
Club members also installed it.
At the Oz Natural Area, construction is set to begin on an educational center. CAP Services raised the funds to cover the cost of the project, and its Fresh Start crew will build it.
Jenson said the project there also includes a small open shelter and plans for a boardwalk.
One project the city is paying for is the new floor in the Augie Austin Gym, at the recreation center.
The rubber floor experienced bubbling during high humidity, and the original wood floor under it buckled.
“It will be a wood floor,” Jenson said. “It’s set to be completed the beginning of June.”