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City receives gift for South Park

South Park is on its way to being renovated.

Work is expected to begin next spring on the first part of an overall four-phase project.

“This is a very giving community,” City Administrator Henry Veleker said during a Dec. 13 presentation at First National Bank.

There, city representatives were joined by members of the community, who are committed to donating more than $500,000 over the next five years for the project.

Archie Overby presented Mayor Brian Smith with a “check” for $535,000.

“I thank Archie and Gary (Thoe) for making this happen,” Veleker said.

The projected cost of the entire project is $1.5 million. The estimated cost of Phase 1 is $619,000.

The city is in line to receive a $309,500 Wisconsin Stewardship Grant, which will go toward the first phase.

Veleker said the state’s Joint Committee Finance will sign off on the grant in January.

The Dec. 13 presentation was about acknowledging and thanking those who are raising private funds for the project.

Those funds are expected to cover one-third of the total cost of renovating South Park.

The city’s goal is to raise one-third through grants, with the remaining one-third of the cost being through the city in in-kind labor, materials and a land donation.

“The idea to do something started about three years ago,” Veleker said of the plan for South Park.

Mayor Brian Smith said the city would not have been able to move forward with the plan if it were not for the support of the private sector.

“For me, it was a pleasure to do it,” Overby said. “I knew people in the community, who like these kinds of projects.”

Smith said South Park is the city’s signature park.

Established in 1907, it is the city’s oldest park.

The first phase of the renovation project will include the construction of a new shelter/bathroom facility, new playground equipment, picnic tables, waste and recycling bins, benches, utilities, lighting and a fishing pier on Shadow Lake, across from Bowersox Park.

“It needs some improvements,” Smith said.

Vic Anthony is among those contributing to the project.

“It’s a very worthwhile project. It’s kind of the crown jewel in Waupaca,” he said of South Park.

This winter, the city will tear down the current shelter and playground equipment.

Veleker said the city may be able to reuse the playground equipment by moving it to the beach area.

With the shelter being torn down, that means there will be no shelter rentals next year in that part of the park, as a new shelter is constructed.

Veleker said one in four shelter rentals at South Park is from outside the Waupaca zipcode, and the park was voted Waupaca’s best park last year.

“I think this is a new way of how communities are going to grow and develop,” he said of the private sector’s financial commitment to the project.

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