First Hodag Park improvements underway
By Eileen Persike
RHINELANDER – The city’s largest park will be a construction site this summer. Rhinelander officials and community members broke ground Wednesday for a multi-use amphitheater stage, the first project coming out of the parks task force formed several years ago.
“This is going to start the redevelopment of this park for the next couple years and make it more green-space friendly for our community,” said Mayor Kris Hanus.
The stage, which will include ADA accessible paths, is something city administrator Zach Vruwink said will be available to generations to come.
“The opportunities are endless,” Vruwink said. “Outdoor weddings, family convenings, poetry readings, open mic night … a whole host of ideas that our community’s already shared with us about how they want to use this feature.”
The task force studied city parks and how they are laid out, and what future developments might look like.
“One of the things they realized was that Hodag Park was considered underutilized,” said task force member Janet Jamison. “So this amphitheater is a great way to bring our community together. It’s exciting to see the dreams and the vision become a reality. There were a lot of people involved in the planning and fundraising for it.”
Fundraising for the project began in earnest last summer, with a goal set at $400,000. There were more than 70 donors including the city of Rhinelander and an anonymous donor who provided a $100,000 matching grant. Rhinelander Community Foundation member Gina Heck noted the Hodag Park Improvement Fund was one of the initial funds started at the foundation about five years ago.
“Hopefully this is riding on the momentum of some past community projects that will continue in the future,” Heck said. “We’re excited to see what comes after this as well.”
Weather permitting, the stage is expected to be completed and ready for use yet this summer.