A new vision for Memorial Park

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Plan features four diamonds and room to accommodate football, soccer
By: 

Warren Bluhm, wbluhm@newmedia-wi.com


Point of Beginning consulting firm drafted this concept plan for redevelopment of Memorial Park, using the existing softball fields, left, and adding new baseball diamonds and a green space large enough for a football and soccer field. The street along the right side of the park is Chestnut Avenue (State Highway 22). The Oconto Falls City Council gave its blessing to the proposal and fundraising effort April 9. (Contributed image)

Memorial Park in Oconto Falls would be reconfigured to accommodate four ball diamonds and a football-field-sized green space in a concept plan approved by the City Council at its April 9 meeting.

Scott Groholski with consulting firm Point of Beginning presented the plan, which utilizes two existing ball fields and adds varsity and junior varsity baseball diamonds separated by a greenspace large enough to accommodate football and soccer games.

Groholski has been meeting for about six months with local youth groups interested in redeveloping the park that was the home of the Oconto Falls High School football and track teams until ST Paper Stadium was built near the high school.

The original focus had been almost exclusively on baseball and softball, but the growing Oconto Falls Youth Football program appeared before the council last summer to express concern that the park continue to be a place their teams can use.

“We came up with two or three different options and we narrowed it to the option that’s in front of you,” Groholski told the council. The plan utilizes the existing softball fields and buildings while reworking the rest of the park for the new athletic fields, with a central plaza and parking lot.

“It’s cozy, there’s not a lot of extra room, but it actually came together very well,” he said. “What I like about it is that every sport has its own identity. You’re still able to fully stripe a competition football field.”

Cost estimates are still being prepared, and private funding would be secured before the project advances, Alderman Kevin Rusch said.

“This is not going to happen next year or later this year, as it goes into phases and the funds come to fruition, Rusch said. “Our group more or less agreed on what we’d like to see the city of Oconto Falls have.”

Point of Beginning could also advise the organizers as they develop a fundraising program, Groholski said.

“We don’t run a campaign, but we can help you organize,” he said, with graphics and website support. He suggested having a main spokesperson with a support group to lead the effort.

“I think it was just a nice use of the space that we have and still have quite a bit of green space,” Alderperson Mat McDermid said. “We’ve had some proposals in the past where we lost green space, and this kind of checked all the boxes for all the different groups. I think the groups did a nice job of coming together and hash through all this.”

Panther Pride has already raised some money, but supporters of this project need to develop a more unified message, McDermid said.

The council voted unanimously to approve the concept plan and allow the groups to continue their fundraising.