City council gives Hodag Park master plan thumbs up
Implementation decisions yet to come
By Eileen Persike
The Rhinelander Common Council took another step toward improvements at Hodag Park last week when it approved a master plan.
Justin Frahm, project consultant with JSD Professional Services in Weston, unveiled a revised plan at the March 8 council meeting.
“The current plan is consistent with the original plan construct,” Frahm said. “We’ve made a few revisions to plan elements to address layout. Zones we talked about – activity zones, sports zones, the passive recreation and active recreation zones, the beach zones and waterfront are all consistent with the original plan.”
Changes to the original plan include removal of the skate park in the southwest corner of the park, and resituating the amphitheater and pavilion to avoid potential shoreline and soil issues, as well as reducing the size of the amphitheater.
“We’ve worked to right-size this a bit in bringing the scale down a bit while still having a structure for a band shell and community events and activities,” Frahm explained, adding, “The overall seating area and overall scale and scope has been reduced significantly – still designed to hold gatherings of couple hundred people.”
The master plan expands the existing beach area creates a compatible use area adjacent to it for weddings and other private gatherings that could generate revenue for the city.
“I’m excited about this document being approved and passed and I know people in Rhinelander are excited,” said council president Ryan Rossing. “I don’t want another plan to sit around for 10 or 20 years without us doing anything so I’m excited about us moving forward.”
Setting priorities and implementation plans, along with acquiring funding will be the next steps.
“A plan is a plan and it’s what we make of it,” said city administrator Zach Vruwink. “I think all the work that’s been done, all the time and effort really gives us some actionable items to pursue.”
City Administrator Zach Vruwink said city does not have funding in the operating budget this year but they are exploring borrowing options and grants. He added that the city must use $100,000 in Community Development Block Grant (DDBG) dollars this year at Hodag Park for upgrading the trails and piers.
“It’s a plan, a concept. It doesn’t have to all happen….doesn’t have to all happen at once, but it gives us a great guide to move forward based upon the concept and the implementation plan as its been proposed,” Vruwink said.
Work on master plans for Hodag Park and Pioneer Park began in 2019. An updated cost estimate on different parts of the Hodag Park master plan are expected within the next month.