Family proposes public shelter along Wolf River
By Scott Bellile
The family of a late Wolf River enthusiast has offered to donate to New London a riverside gazebo/bandshell for community use.
At a May 3 parks and recreation committee meeting, New London Parks and Recreation Director Chad Hoerth told the committee Margie Stilen is interested in raising funds to build a gazebo in memory of her son Greg Stilen Jr. She and Hoerth have in mind River Trail Park, where the city had planned to install a gazebo years ago.
The city had placed a concrete pad at some point near the Shawano Street bridge behind Community First Credit Union before the project fell through. Margie Stilen suggested picking up where the city left off, as she said using the same foundation would save donors thousands of dollars in concrete work.
“It’s been sitting there for years waiting for something like this,” Committee Chairman Rob Way said about the slab.
“I think it would be a really, really, really neat way to honor him,” Margie Stilen said. Her son used to fish along River Trail Park growing up.
Greg Stilen Jr., 26, was killed early morning July 14, 2015. He was struck by a vehicle after work as he was traveling home by motorcycle on U.S. Highway 45.
Hoerth told the committee he’d like to see the proposed facility used for the outdoor summer concerts series. Concerts are currently held in Taft Park where the Veterans Memorial will soon go.
Committee member John Faucher helped the Stilens raise just under $2,000 through a memorial fishing tournament held this past year. He said kids fishing near the Shawano Street bridge have nowhere nearby but the bridge to take cover when it rains. He said a gazebo would be safer.
Hoerth said everything is merely conceptual now. He brought it before the committee to gauge their interest and didn’t ask for a vote. He said the city will need to look into factors such as maintenance costs, limited parking space and nearby apartment residents’ concerns before determining if it’s possible.
“I think everybody is sitting here nodding their head like, ‘yeah, great idea,’” Mayor Gary Henke said. “But let’s do a little bit more research and so forth into it and see what we can come up with.”
“It’s meaningful to the family’s experience and with that property specifically,” committee member Henrica Bult said. “I think that would be a nice place to start, and hopefully that can all unfold in that area. That would be a good idea. I would like to look more into it.”