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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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New $12 Million Marinette Rec Center Gets Approval

The City of Marinette and the School District of Marinette held an informational session for the public on the new recreation center on Tuesday, Aug. 23 at the school district office.

City and school district officials and representatives from Robert E. Lee & Associates Inc., Tyco Fire Products, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and Stephenson National Bank & Trust were in attendance at Tuesday's meeting to provide updates and answer any questions from the public.

The recreation center will be built on Pierce Avenue to the south of the high school at an estimated cost of $12 million. The City of Marinette approved $6 million in bonding for the project, with the other $6 million to be raised through private donations.

Tim Stauss, Vice President & Business Banking Officer at Stephenson National Bank & Trust, lauded the Marinette City Council for its financial commitment to the project.

"The entire project is a $12 million project. Of that $12 million, the city council has approved bonding for $6 million of it," Stauss said. "So congratulations to the city council. That's no small feat. You don't see the support always and the quick response from some city councils that you do in the City of Marinette."

Stauss, a member of the project's fundraising team, also informed those in attendance that roughly $4 million of the target $6 million had been raised so far. The fundraising team is still working on securing the final $2 million in donations, which he reiterated are tax-deductible.

Stauss noted that the recreation center would serve not just citizens of Marinette, but surrounding communities too, as the user fee will remain the same for everyone. He also mentioned that the recreation center would have something for people of all ages.

"Trust me when I tell you this, this facility, we feel, shows a commitment to not just the youth, but if you look at what the facility entails, it's all about hitting every user in every age group," he said. "There's literally going to be something for everyone in there."

Jared Schmidt, civil/municipal engineering manager with Robert E. Lee & Associates, gave an update on the site evaluation.

"I think after looking at the community and the area, the project location adjacent to the high school makes natural sense," Schmidt said. "It plays on synergy, it plays on the opportunity to share these fundamental uses of the building."

Also attending the meeting were DNR hydrogeologist Robert Klauk and DNR hydrogeologist program coordinator Alyssa Sellwood, who gave updates on soil contamination at the site.

Klauk noted that contaminated soil was identified after a 564-gallon unleaded gasoline underground storage tank was removed in November 1992. While there is contaminated soil at the site, Sellwood stated that the contamination is fairly deep in the ground and not much of an issue, as there would be clean groundwater near the surface and right below the building.

Tom Tickler, the Marinette School District Building and Grounds Supervisor, reiterated that the school gets its water from the city's municipal water supply, so there is no need to worry that students or teachers are drinking any contaminated groundwater.

Among the next steps for the project will be the city officially purchasing the roughly 15 acres of property from the school district and the two entities entering into a usage agreement. Superintendent Wendy Dzurick stated that the property will be sold to the City of Marinette for $1 as part of the agreement.

"We're asking, if the facility is available, to use the property for various events and activities " so to enhance maybe our P.E. and health curriculum, maybe some of our sports and activities," Dzurick said.

If everything stays on track, bidding for the project will go out in January and ground will be broken at the site in March, according to Mayor Steve Genisot. He estimated that it would take around nine months for construction to be completed after that point.

"We would hope to be open by the next hockey season, if everything went as planned," Genisot said.

Though a new recreation center is something that has been talked about for around a decade, Dzurick said she is impressed with how fast the project has been moving along once the ball got rolling.

"The fact that the city was willing to make the large investment they did, and the fundraising committee, headed by Tim Stauss and his group, were able to bring in $4 million already was quite shocking to me," Dzurick said. "Everybody's ready for it because all the stars are aligning. My office looks right out on that site and I'm hoping by next spring, I'm watching lots of building activity going on. And then very shortly after, looking out the window at a great new site."


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