, 2022-12-06 05:02:58,
MENASHA – The redevelopment of Jefferson Park will begin in earnest next summer thanks in part to federal COVID-19 stimulus dollars.
The Common Council recently voted 7-0 to use $1.5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund improvements to Jefferson Park. Another $150,000 in ARPA money has been reserved for fundraising and procuring grants.
Mayor Don Merkes said city parks and trails experienced a lot of use during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We wanted to make sure that those safe, outdoor spaces were available to everyone if we ever had those situations again,” Merkes told The Post-Crescent, “so we thought it was a good use of those funds.”
Jefferson Park is a community gem overlooking Lake Winnebago and the north channel of the Fox River. At 29 acres, it is Menasha’s largest park and is home to the city’s swimming pool and many of its festivals.
Menasha will have $4.9 million available for Jefferson Park: $2 million from its capital improvements program, $1.5 million in ARPA funds, $850,000 in anticipated donations, $295,000 from its stormwater fund, $250,000 in anticipated state grant money, and $5,000 from a local tourism grant.
The total will fund the first three phases of redevelopment. Those phases include a new, larger playground with a lighthouse theme; a new boat launch designed to accommodate fishing tournaments; a new park road that’s separate from the boat launch; and a softball complex capable of hosting tournaments.
“We’re looking to refresh the entire park and really emphasizing that this is our main community gathering space for everyone in the city,” Merkes said.
The city plans to begin construction shortly after CommunityFest, the annual Neenah-Menasha Fourth of July celebration. The work likely would continue into the spring of 2024.
Merkes said future phases — maybe in three or four years — would reconstruct the municipal swimming pool on the west end of the park and boat slips on the east end.
The swimming pool was renovated in 1991 with a zero-depth entry and slide, but the mechanical system dates to the 1950s, he said.
“We don’t have an exact cost,” Merkes said of the pool reconstruction, “but it will be more than $5 million.”
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Menasha created a master plan for the redevelopment of Jefferson Park in 2017. It envisioned an expansion of the park by acquiring a former…
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