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Park project fundraising underway

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Funds are being raised to update Waupaca's Swan Park with a new playground and a splash pad. Rendering courtesy of Rettler Corp.

Waupaca plans new playground, splash pad

By Angie Landsverk

A fundraising campaign is underway for a splash pad and new playground at Waupaca’s Swan Park.

The estimated $1.4 million project is a partnership between the Parks and Recreation Department and Friends of Waupaca Parks.

“We need to fundraise half of it,” said Parks and Recreation Director Andrew Whitman said. “Half is included in the capital improvement plan for the city.”

The city applied for a state Land and Water Conservation Fund grant this spring.

Whitman said the city could apply for half of the project cost.

He expects to learn this fall if the city is receiving any grant funds.

“The primary goal is creating a fully inclusive area – not just the splash pad, but everything about it,” Whitman said.

The park’s current playground is the original one and is 20-plus years old.

The project update has been in the works for about a year and a half.

A poured and placed rubber surface is planned for the new playground.

The Friends group worked with Rettler Corp. on the project design and budget.

“We hope to break ground in the spring of 2022. The goal for completion is mid to late summer,” said Adam Ross.

He is the group’s vice president and is heading the project’s fundraising campaign.

“It’s going right over the top of the existing playground. The playground is used all the time,” Ross said. “That was a lot of the driving force for the project. It gets used a lot so we really want to create an inclusive playground for all to enjoy.”

One area is to be targeted for children age 5 and under, he said.

Splash pad

The splash pad idea has been brought up in the community, including through the recent update of Waupaca’s Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP) and during conversations with community members, Whitman said.

It will provide a play opportunity for children who do not know how to swim or are handicapped.

Ross said it will give more children the “opportunity to play and be able to be kids.”

Once the funds are raised, decisions about the type of play structures and colors will be made.

“It’s going to be a great draw for the community,” he said.

The overall project also includes updating the shelter near the playground with a restroom.

Ross noted there will be a shaded seating area for families to sit and watch their children play.

The fundraising campaign has been broken down into three phases.

“We have some donations secured already and continue to fundraise,” Whitman said. “We’re in the second phase of fundraising now.”

The first phase involved contacting some of the community’s largest employers.

During the second phase, letters are going out to the general business community.

That was expected to begin this week.

The third phase involves sending postcards to those who live in the 54981 ZIP code.

That is to take place within the next couple of months.

Donations may be made online or by mail

Friends of Waupaca Parks falls under the Waupaca County Natural Resources Foundation.

Tax deductible donations are payable to the foundation and may be mailed to Friends of Waupaca Parks, 407 School St., Waupaca, WI, 54981.

Note in the memo line the donation is for the “Swan Park Playground Project.”

Visit friendsofwaupacaparks.com to make a donation online.

All donations are being recognized on the Friends group’s website.

Donations of $1,000 and higher will be recognized on donor signage at the park.

“We had to go into it with the mindset we’re only going to get a portion of the grant we’re seeking,” Ross said.

He and Whitman have been speaking to many business leaders.

“There’s definitely a positive vibe,” Ross said. “It’s well received. They’re excited to see where the project’s going to go.”

Whitman said the inclusive playground and splash pad could draw people to Waupaca for day visits and potentially new residents as well.

“I think the playground will be a big draw for people to want to come to the community,” he said.

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