Council sends proposal for second softball field at Pioneer Park back to committee
Agreement sought with school district on park use
BY KEVIN BONESKE
A proposal forwarded to the Rhinelander City Council for a public hearing on whether to build a second softball field at Pioneer Park has been sent back to the Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee.
Committee members had decided at their May 23 meeting to send the proposal to the full council to schedule a public hearing at a special council meeting after having heard from supporters and opponents of the plan to build the second softball field where an ice rink with the boards in deteriorating condition now exists.
However, the council decided Tuesday to refer the matter back to the committee, which next meets June 27, because of the School District of Rhinelander not having a written agreement with the city since 2003 to use a softball field, while other groups such as the Hodag Farmers’ Market and the Oneida County Fair Board have agreements in place to use the park.
Despite not presently having a written agreement, Hodag girls softball head coach D.J. DeMeyer said the school district pays the city $25 each time a softball game is held at Pioneer Park, which is used because of a lack of suitable softball fields in the area during the spring.
DeMeyer said adding another field at Pioneer Park could also be used by other softball teams in the summer and to host tournaments. He noted he hopes the proposal could still be approved in time to break ground after the county fair is held there in early August and have another softball field able to be played on at the park next spring, which would depend upon how much the grass could grow this fall.
Supporters of the second softball field there note they have secured the necessary funding for its construction without the use of city tax dollars. However, representatives of the Farmers’ Market and county fair have raised objections about the proposal taking up space used for the market and also resulting in some trees being used for shade at the fair being cut down.