Letter to the editor: Housing, parking, commercial interests more beneficial to downtown than park
I am writing in opposition to the newly proposed downtown park in Marshfield. It is my understanding that it will utilize the Burlington parking lot as well as the former News-Herald property and cost $1.2 million dollars.
The proposed park is located two blocks from the existing Columbia Park. Rather than spend money that creates new play lawns, outdoor dining areas, restrooms, splash pads, and a pavilion, would upgrading the existing Columbia Park with its bandshell accommodate many of these activities and be a wiser choice? Why are we creating more parks downtown — Hardacre Park being the most recent — when we have wonderful parks like Wildwood with an adjacent swimming pool, Columbia, Griese, etc.? Why did the city purchase the News-Herald property?
Using the Burlington lot eliminates parking directly across the street from the post office used extensively by postal patrons on a daily basis. It also increases parking issues in the area by eliminating some on-street parking as part of the one-way traffic plan. Instead of using the News-Herald property for a park, use it temporarily for long-term parking by area employees until a more permanent solution is developed. This could be housing and commercial uses compatible with the core area, which would be paying property taxes, providing jobs, and which do not require costly city maintenance.
The 2015 Downtown Master Plan prepared by hired consultants indicated the need for a large central gathering space for local events, entertainment, and the arts. How about Columbia Park?
Additional housing and commercial activities in the core area are more important than a splash pad to “allow children to cool off in the hot summer days,” according to the storyboard promoting the park concept. Proponents of the park believe its location across from the post office will enhance the downtown by making it a gathering location for retail, dining, events, etc. It could become a gathering point for undesirables.
They say Columbia Park is too far from downtown. By recycling empty properties such as Hudson’s and Walgreen’s, we can provide the “connectivity” called for in the master plan. They further state that there are 172 existing parking stalls “in the vicinity” but fail to note that the 45 stalls in the Burlington lot will be eliminated.
I commend the city for providing storyboards at several locations — such as the Daily Grind, the Chestnut Center for the Arts, and the library — explaining the park proposal and seeking community feedback. This is a positive step in examining the need for an additional downtown park. However, the most obvious location directly impacted by the proposal, namely the post office, was not included as a storyboard location.
In summary, more effort should be put into providing downtown housing, new stores, restaurants, etc., and utilizing empty buildings rather than continuing to eliminate parking and removing commercial property from the tax roll.