Planning commission discusses potential Pioneer Park improvements
By Lori Adler, reporter
Rhinelander planning commission met Monday following an open house to review two concept plans for improvements to Pioneer Park. The open house was well attended, and organizers were able to gather many public comments, concerns and opinions about the two concepts for the park.
While no decisions have been made regarding improvements to Pioneer Park, the concepts showed a number of possible features such as a new entrance and exit and new parking areas. In addition, the concept plans showed open spaces, trails, playground areas, a river walk, pickleball courts, a pavilion, permanent sites for farmers market spaces with electricity and a splash pad or spray park among many other ideas.
JSD Professional Services is providing the planning services, which began with Hodag Park and has now added Pioneer Park as requested by the planning commission. It’s important to note that the plans for these parks, once approved by the planning commission and then by the common council, do not necessarily mean the improvements will be made. This process simply creates a master plan for each park, which would require any improvements made to the parks to fit into the plan. Future improvements of either park will need to be decided upon by the common council and will reflect both public input and budgetary constraints.
Justin Frahm of JSD Professional Services was at both the open house and the planning commission meeting and stated that the Hodag Park plan, which was started several months ago, will soon be ready for final approval. It is expected to be presented to the planning commission at the November meeting. Furthermore, comments gathered from the open house for Pioneer Park will be recorded, and the concept plans for the park will be evaluated and updated based upon the comments. The updated concepts will be brought to the commission in the next month or two as well.
When the potential final plan for Hodag Park is presented, along with the updated concepts for Pioneer Park, the planning commission will need to make some decisions as there are duplicates on both plans at this point such as a splash pad/spray park, pavilion and permanent market spaces at both parks.
“I think it’s worth noting that decisions will need to be made. I would encourage dialog and at the draft in November, to really put those decisions on the table,” Frahm remarked, later adding, “I think it’s going to be helpful to take the information back from this evening, revise Pioneer Park, come back, present both concepts for both the draft document for Hodag Park master plan and the revised Pioneer Park, so that they can be looked at together.”
A member of the public asked if there were any cost estimates for either plan at this point. Daniel Guild, Rhinelander city administrator, explained that cost estimates are not done until a master plan for each park is approved, and since it is an additional expense to cost out the improvements, it is important to wait until final approval..
“It doesn’t make sense to plan out the cost until we actually know what we’re costing,” Guild noted.
The public comment period is far from over on plans for either park. Documents are expected to be posted to the Rhinelander City Hall website soon, and comments will be accepted. Even after a master plan is approved by the planning commission, the plan would go through a two-month public comment period before it would be finalized.
The next meeting of the Rhinelander Planning Commission will be Tuesday, November 5, at 6 p.m. at City Hall.