Future use of site to be determined following parks survey
BY KEVIN BONESKE
A proposal to construct a second softball field at Pioneer Park will have to wait until Rhinelander residents respond to a survey on the future use of the city’s parks.
Because of the ongoing research and pending results of the survey, Rhinelander administrator Kristina Aschenbrenner said the city’s Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee will not be discussing the proposal at Monday’s meeting.
“The topic of an additional softball field at Pioneer Park has started a big debate over the purpose and uses for our parks,” Aschenbrenner said. “In an effort to hear from all city residents on the topic, the City Council approved a survey to be included in an already scheduled mailing.”
The seats were filled in the council chambers at City Hall for last month’s Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting with 20-plus Hodag girls softball players and coaches on hand along with others with an interest in whether another softball field should be built at the park where an outdoor ice rink with the boards in deteriorating condition now exists.
The proposal, which calls for the elimination of some trees to be able locate the softball field there, has sparked controversy among various users of the park, which also includes being the site of the weekly Hodag Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from Memorial Day weekend through mid October and the annual Oneida County Fair in early August.
Aschenbrenner said the one-page survey was included with the annual Public Confidence Water Utility mailing that is sent out in June.
“The city is asking residents to fill out and return (the survey) to City Hall,” she said. “Responses will be reviewed at a future Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee meeting.”
The survey, which asks respondents to rank the top-10 reasons they visit the city’s parks, also asks a series of questions about the city’s two largest parks, Pioneer Park near the downtown area and Hodag Park on Boom Lake.
In addition to asking open-ended questions about what someone’s best memory and his or her vision is for the two parks, the survey also asks nine yes-or-no questions – asking whether those parks have adequate parking, trash bins, bathrooms, water fountains, pavilions, picnic tables and grills and are accessible by walking and biking – with space for comments.
The survey also asks residents about what they think the city is doing right regarding the park system, what else they would like to see in the park system and what else they believe the Parks, Buildings and Grounds Committee, mayor and City Council need to know as they plan the future parks.