Council amends budget for Franklin Park

Phase 1 came in higher than expected
By: 

The Shawano Common Council on Wednesday approved amending the city budget to cover higher than expected costs on the first phase of development plans for Franklin Park.

The city was projecting a maximum $140,000 for the Phase 1 project, but the lowest of five contractor bids, from Martell Construction Co. of Green Bay, came in at more than $185,000.

The council voted 3-1 to grant the bid to Martell and amend the budget, with Alderman Bob Kurkiewicz voting no. Council members Sandy Steinke and John Hoeffs were absent.

Prior to the vote, the council heard from two representatives of the farmers market, which is held at Franklin Park, who encouraged city officials to move ahead with the project and also voice their support for the April referendum that seeks borrowing for additional park improvements.

Richard Sarnwick said market volunteers have been looking forward to the Franklin Park development, but the news of the Phase 1 overages caused some uncertainty.

“The volunteers have been very excited about where the market is headed with the update in the park system, but we were a little discouraged hearing about this shortage of funds,” he said.

Sarnwick said the farmers market provides an alcohol-free social venue, a local outlet for people who produce food in the area, and exposure for downtown businesses. He said anywhere from 400 to 700 people come through the market on a given Saturday.

“It’s very important to us to see this project go forward,” he said. “We’re really excited about it, and we think that developing that park is really going to make Shawano shine.”

Bob Dumke said he hopes the council will support the upcoming parks referendum.

“I know these are difficult issues when you talk about borrowing money to finance recreational aspects of our community,” he said. “However, because of the importance of these types of activities to attracting new families to the area, I would hate to see a delay of eight to 10 years to get some aspects of these projects done.”

City officials previously said that proposed park improvements could take at least eight years to accomplish without additional borrowing. The borrowing being proposed in April could accomplish those projects in about two years, they said.

“We’re lucky to have such a vibrant and active downtown,” Dumke said, adding that development of Franklin Park would create a “jewel in the crown” for the downtown area.

“It’s hard to imagine a better investment in our community,” he said.

The budget amendment passed Wednesday will add $55,000 in borrowing for the Phase 1 development, which will add 0.14 percent to the 2018 tax levy and 0.013 cents per $1,000 to the tax bill. That will work out to an additional $1.30 in taxes per year on a $100,000 home for each of the 10 years of the life of the loan.

The Phase 1 project includes an archway at the main entrance at the northeast corner of the park, at Division and Washington streets; landscaping with native plantings; a concrete walkway; 18 parking stalls; electric utilities available for the farmers market and other public use; lighting at the main entrance and the east entrance across from the civic center; a 1o-foot-wide sidewalk on the other side of the parking stalls; and a pedestrian crossing across Washington Street from the park to the civic center parking lot.

The city is also seeking voter input on a proposed $1.85 million in borrowing for additional park improvements in an April 4 advisory referendum.

At Franklin Park, the improvements would include an amphitheater for music, movies and community events; public restrooms, and pavilion space available for public rental; a water fountain with benches and trees for visual interest; parking, electrical, landscaping and infrastructure to accommodate community events; walkways, picnic tables and benches; and space for a future playground.

At Smalley Park, plans call for a park pavilion with restroom facilities and a rentable picnic shelter; a canoe and kayak launch; boat landings and boat slips; improved parking, lighting and security; walking trails that connect all of the major park features; trees and other native plantings, including native plantings along the waterway to deter geese; and continued revitalization of the beach and the improvement of beach amenities.

The plan also calls for a splash pad to replace the kiddie pool at Memorial Park.

The 20-year loan would mean an estimated annual tax increase of 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $25 for a $100,000 home.