Rhinelander skate park plans advance
Rhinelander City Council voted to build a skate park, along with a splash pad at Pioneer Park. Photo courtesy Rhinelander Public Works.
Council selects prominent location, takes next step
By Eileen Persike, editor
The Rhinelander City Council decided to place the new skateboard park front and center when it voted to construct the youth-centered space at Pioneer Park. The vote last week solidified the project and pushed it into the next phase.
Public Works Director Randy Myrum told the council Pioneer Park is his first choice because it meets his criteria, which includes nearby utilities and constructability. It also fits within the OverIt organization’s priorities of a central, safe location, a connection to community, having a Northwoods theme, and restrooms, to name a few.
“Another thing is, this area tells the kids – especially in OverIt, and tells the community that we’re inclusive, we want you as part of our community,” said Myrum. “You’re going to be involved with the pickleball group – the older generation, you’re going to be involved with the young kids in the park and you are part of us.”
The youth-led OverIt organization is the driving force behind the skate park, and is responsible for its renewed energy after several group members spoke during the public comment period at a December 2021 council meeting. Since then, OverIt has collaborated with ArtStart, skate park consultants and others in the community to create their vision of a skate park that would also be a place for youth to gather and hang out.
The project includes a splash pad, already approved by city council. The skate park would be built on the ball diamond’s footprint. Myrum said the diamond is rarely used and the city has no open contracts for its use.
“There is nostalgia there, but I think if Rhinelander is looking for the most value, if you want to see in the future more people using that space, then it’s going to be with a skate park and a splash pad,” said Myrum.
Pioneer Park has been home to the Oneida County Fair, with the carnival being placed in the softball field area. Myrum noted he has ideas that he cannot yet disclose, of where the fair could be held in the coming years. The 2023 fair will be held at Pioneer Park.
The city’s 2023 budget includes $75,000 earmarked for a skate park. Myrum said as the next step he would like to use that as seed money to put out requests for qualifications, or RFQs, to skate park designers and builders. He also said he will begin seeking alternate sources for funding the project.
Council members noted the initial renderings show a 5,000-square-foot skate park, which is smaller than the 12,000 square feet previously considered a minimum size.
“I want to make sure that whatever skate park we end up with, it’s something that the kids are happy with, that future generations really want to use so that it goes into disuse or neglect because it’s garbage,” said council president Eileen Daniel. “So we want to make sure we have the space, the features that’s going to keep the kids coming back generation after generation.”
Myrum told the council future expansion would be possible. His suggestion was to begin construction only after sufficient funds have been secured.
“I would want to build something that we can be proud of and that we’re going to invest in, that is going to be an architectural point of pride,” he added.
“If we believe it’s worth our while and we need to get started now just to keep the ball rolling, we could build it, we could design it with expansion in mind. That is certainly an option.”
The city’s second option was to locate the skate park at Hodag Park, and the third and least feasible option was West Side Park.