City officially dedicates Franklin Park

Officials highlight community partnerships
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Photo by Jim Leuenberger Shawano Mayor Jeanne Cronce, surrounded by other city officials and representatives of the Shawano Rotary Club and Shawano Farmers Market, cuts the ribbon at a ceremony Saturday officially designating Franklin Park after the completion of the first phase of park improvements.

Shawano city officials and supporters of the Franklin Park development project held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday to officially designate the park after completion of the first round of improvements.

“This is just the beginning,” said Matt Hendricks, parks and recreation director.

Further work is expected next summer as improvements that were approved by voters in an April referendum are added.

Phase 1 of the project included an archway at the main entrance at the northeast corner of the park, at Division and Washington streets; landscaping with native plantings; a concrete walkway; 18 parking stalls; electric utilities available for the farmers market and other public use; lighting at the main entrance and the east entrance across from the Civic Center; a 1o-foot-wide sidewalk on the other side of the parking stalls; and a pedestrian crossing across Washington Street from the park to the civic center parking lot.

The city spent more than $185,000 for its part of those improvements — about $45,000 more than expected — with an additional $30,000 coming from the Shawano Country Tourism Development Fund Committee, $15,000 donated by the Rotary Club and $20,000 from the Egan Foundation.

Hendricks also noted the contribution of Bob Dumke and the Wolf River chapter of The Wild Ones, a national organization with local chapters that promote the use of native plants and natural landscaping to benefit the critical ecosystems that sustain life.

The group provided “hundreds of hours of volunteer efforts,” Hendricks said.

Speakers at Saturday’s ribbon-cutting included Mayor Jeanne Cronce and representatives from the Rotary and the farmers market, with the dominant theme of continuing the community relationships and partnerships that made the Phase 1 work possible.

Designs are expected to be completed by November for additional park improvements included in the April referendum, followed by a public input session.

Bids for the work will go out after that, and expectations are for the work to be done between May and June of next year.

Voters in April approved $1.85 million in additional borrowing over the city’s usual borrowing for capital improvement projects to pay for improvements at three city parks, which will raise taxes by slightly less than $0.25 per $1,000 of equalized value, or about $25 on a $100,000 home.

At Franklin Park, the improvements will include an amphitheater for music, movies and community events; public restrooms, and pavilion space available for public rental; a water fountain with benches and trees for visual interest; parking, electrical, landscaping and infrastructure to accommodate community events; walkways, picnic tables and benches; and space for a future playground.

At Smalley Park, plans call for a park pavilion with restroom facilities and a rentable picnic shelter; a canoe and kayak launch; boat landings and boat slips; improved parking, lighting and security; walking trails that connect all of the major park features; trees and other native plantings, including native plantings along the waterway to deter geese; and continued revitalization of the beach and the improvement of beach amenities.

The plan also call for replacement of the wading pool at Memorial Park with a splash pad.