Waupaca seeks grant to buy land
Future park considered
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca is applying for a grant to go toward the purchase of a 43-acre parcel for future greenspace and trail development.
“If we don’t have control of the property, we don’t have the opportunity. That is the way the Friends of Waupaca Parks is looking at it,” Aaron Jenson, the city’s parks and recreation director, said during the common council’s Jan. 16 meeting.
That evening, he presented information about the property, how to fund the cost of buying it and how the parcel could eventually be developed.
Julie Motiff owns the property and is interested in selling it to the city.
The property is located off South Western Avenue. The city controls property on its northwestern and southeastern borders.
Jenson says that makes it a key connective piece between the Wauk-King and Grass Lake trails.
He sees a way for the city to buy the property through grants, as well as with funds already raised by Friends of Waupaca Parks.
Jenson asked the common council to support his request to apply for a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Local Assistance Grant.
The grant would cover 50 percent of the project’s total costs.
Jenson said the city’s match would be covered through support outside of city tax dollars.
Friends of Waupaca Parks voted unanimously, during its quarterly meeting last fall, in favor of acquiring the parcel.
It has committed $40,000 toward the cost of buying it, as well as another $2,000 to pay for a DNR-required appraisal of it, he said.
Jenson said there is also about $17,000 remaining in a national healthy community grant the city received in 2012.
Putting those funds toward the price of the parcel would be appropriate, according to Jenson.
The common council voted 9-1 to support his request of applying for the state grant, with Steve Hackett voting no.
Hackett objects to the idea of creating the space, because he believes the city has “way too many parks.”
The surrounding towns, whose residents use the city’s parks, are unwilling to pay their fair share of the cost to operate them, he said.
Jenson said in reply, “I’m as concerned about some of this stuff as you.”
He views the addition of this space as a two-part project.
“We’re talking now about acquisition,” Jenson said.
He said if the city receives the DNR grant, the property could remain in its current state until the council is comfortable moving forward with developing it.
Trail expansion would be the primary focus, Jenson said.
He said Friends of Waupaca Parks understands the importance of sustainability and thus has a goal of growing the River Ridge Endowment Fund to $100,000.
The fund, managed by the Community Foundation of the Fox Cities, has a current balance of about $32,000.
The property being considered by the city has access to wetlands, water and biodiversity, he said.
About 35 percent of it is DNR-designated wetlands, according to Jenson.
It is not likely to see residential or commercial development, he said.
There are single and multi-family housing units around South Western Avenue and vacant lots as well.
With no parks in this part of the city, Jenson sees the addition of this greenspace as a way to connect the city’s existing trails and also boost land sales in this neighborhood.
The application deadline for the DNR’s Local Assistance Grant is May 1.
Jenson said these grants are typically awarded in September.
“I feel we have as good a shot as anybody at getting it,” he said.