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Marinette Parks Committee Hears Directors Reports

Issue Date: March 3, 2022

At the City of Marinette Parks and Recreation Committee meeting on Monday, Feb. 28, several reports were provided by the Directors.

In his report, REC Center Executive Director Gavin Scray listed upcoming events to be held at the REC which will include: High School State Hockey Tournament, March 11 -13; Spring Craft show, March 12, Chummy Hockey Tournament, March 18 - 20; Home and Garden Show, March 26; Danglefest Hockey Tournament, April 1-3; War In The Woods Promotions Inc. MMA Event , April 9; Men's League Hockey Tournament April 22 - 24 and Spring Pickleball Tournament, April 30 - May 1.

Mayor Steve Genisot then commented to Scray, "You attended a conference recently, did anything come from that"? Scray replied, "Splash Pads are the hot item right now and when they are working and done correctly, they are an asset to the community. However there are lots of considerations that can make them troublesome, but when we get to that point I will have some resources to share with the group as far as those considerations and how they can apply to our community". Scray added, "Also in addition, we held a Pickleball Tournament a few weeks back which is a trending sport right now. It seems that the Pickleball group is an interesting group not only in our community but other communities as well. We have a lot of good ideas to implement in our area".

Scray added they advertised for Recreation Program Coordinator Position and there has not been much interest showed. It was also indicated in his report that the center is looking for Zamboni drivers and a part-time Housekeeper is needed as well.

Recreation Superintendent Adrienne Lacy listed the community programs that were held and upcoming including: A learn to fly fish was held in partnership with Marinette Trout Unlimited that began on Feb. 22. Be Active Wisconsin is a state wide virtual challenge in which residents of each community participate as a team to win and the community with the most active minutes during March 1 through March 31 will win the traveling trophy. This challenge began March 1 and sign up is under way now; Skating and tennis lessons are in the second session for the year; Sporties and Shorties are ongoing and close to capacity; Bend and Stretch and TaeKwonDo are also ongoing. Other programs include: Day Camp that occurred on Feb. 17 and 18 and Spring Break Camp is coming up in March; Parents' Night Out was held on Feb. 25 and we are starting to plan for #myREC Summer Day Camp and registration started on March 1.

Department of Public Works (DPW) Superintendent Patrick Carlson reported that the department continues to snow plow parking lots and sidewalk maintenance in all the parks and boat landings. All Christmas light decor has been removed throughout the City. DPW continues to sand and repair all the picnic tables in the city at the city garage and have also hauled all the wood chips from the city garage to the West Bay Shore nature trail and spread the chips over the entire trail. They also spent a large amount of time and money building a new bridge over the creek in that area as well.

Director of Marketing and Tourism Shawn Katzbeck then provided his report detailing upcoming events for the REC Center including the upcoming Spring Craft Show on March 12, with 24 vendors and an expected 10 to 15 more are signing up. To date the revenue is 25% over the 2021 show. The Home and Garden Show will be held March 26 with eight vendors so far.

In other news, the Welcome Center received a TIC Grant in the amount of $5,000, which is $1,600 over the amount received last year. Katzbeck announced he is working on a video series for Facebook and he is working with Steve Campbell on a Video Campaign to engage the community. He is also working with Lacey on marketing programs including upcoming events in April of a Quilt Show on April 1; MMA, April 9; Senior Prom (for senior citizens), April 16; Paddle Battle at the Rec - Pickleball Tournament with dates of April 29, 20 and May 1.

With new people, come new ideas. Katzbeck introduced his idea of Food Truck Friday hoping to make it a reality with getting as many food vendors as possible to come to our area in the summer season. His idea is to have, for instance, one truck in the parking lots at Marinette Marine, Waupaca, in downtown area and at the REC Center. Each week the food trucks would switch so the customers would be able to try the different food options and the vendors would be able to build their businesses at each location.

Katzbeck commented, "There was one vendor that came here from Green Bay a while back and she sold out. I think this concept would enhance our area immensely. It is something different for our community".

A brief discussion took place about Phase 1 of the Higley Field Playground project. Scray said, "Phase one would include a playground, parking lot and walking trail, which is within the budgeted capital amount of approximately $150,000 that was allotted for this phase of the project". The bid for phase one came in at $148,444". Alderperson At Large, Dorothy Kowalski stated the only change was eliminating the rubber mat under the playground equipment due to the high cost of that material, leaving a different option to choose instead. The item was forwarded to the Finance Committee for further discussion and approval, that was held prior to the Common Council meeting on Tuesday, March 1.

A lengthy discussion took place regarding City Park Campground. Last year the campground was to be fixed up and to make it usable again. Plans were to have a campground host, but the plan seemed to have fallen to the wayside and wasn't followed through on.

Superintendent of Public Works Patrick Carlson stated, "The biggest thing is the upkeep. Last year there was a lot of issues where the police had to be involved with damages, drug related activities, a lot of transient tenters that didn't pay, fights, garbage and food left at the campsites and bathroom damages. It is a matter of coming up with solutions and ideas with stringent rules and regulations of the sites. Carlson added, "One of the biggest concerns is the upkeep and maintenance of the sites. Even with summer help it will be difficult to maintain. We need a full-time camp host to monitor the campground and more full time police enforcement".

Other concerns were campers overstaying and not paying for their stay, campers that reserved a site find out that someone else was on the site that didn't register or pay for that site, too many tents on one site, people on wrong sites and it is then difficult to get them to move after they are all set up. They should have been making reservations but they were not. With tents being one of the largest issues, it was mentioned to only allow campers and not tents. Other concerns were that the tenters were driving away the campers.

The discussion was tabled to be brought to the next committee meeting with more detailed information on costs, what maintenance is needed to the campground and bathrooms, what is needed to properly run the campground and campground hosts with possibly offering free camping for their hosting service, better patrolling of the area and whatever else is needed to properly manage a campground.

Letters were sent out offering the Duer Gym to be used by non profit organizations. Approximately six organizations showed interest but didn't want to be identified at this time. The building would be donated to the non profit and then that entity would take over all maintenance and repair costs as their own building.

Jennifer Schiller of "A Place For Max" came forward to express their interest in the building. It is a non profit that was started two years ago and is a place where those with special needs feel welcome, are never judged and a place where they feel secure and happy where they can be themselves. Schiller said, "This would be an amazing place for more exposure of our organization. We would use it for adults with special needs. This would open up many opportunities for the group and give us the ability to secure grants for renovations and updates to the building. I have talked to the high schools, middle schools, ADRC and Lakeland and we could open up to all of these entities. It would be an amazing opportunity for our organization".

At present, "A Place For Max" has no location at this point and she is working out of her home. Schiller recently purchased the Weathervane Antiques building and will be turning it into a coffee shop for special needs people. With the Duer Gym, it would give the non-profit the opportunity to teach the public of how to talk and deal with special needs adults and children. Schiller added, "We already have donations and we know that we can handle the overhead costs and would apply for grants to bring the building back into repair".

Mayor Genisot interjected, "Lakeland had a place at one time and it closed. I think there is a need for this. There was one for profit group that was interested, but the committee needs to decide who to choose. The goal is to make sure the organization that is chosen is worthy to use it for their non profit and are able to support the costs and maintenance of the building".

It was decided to bring this back to the committee with the criteria to be met, decide if offering to a non profit or for profit entity and also have interested parties provide a formal presentation for their group.

Two action items have been added to the March agenda for further discussion including, the Campground and the Duer Gym.


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