Community square project seeks major donors
Planners hope to break ground in 2017
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Fundraising efforts for the downtown community square have quietly begun as project organizers seek major donors interested in naming rights to certain features of the planned park.
The square is meant to be a community gathering space with planned items such a splash pad, performance stage, and multiple dining areas. Located just east of the Chestnut Center and post office, the square would span about 54,000 square feet.
As Hub City Times has previously reported, plans call for about $900,000 of the $1.3 million total project to be privately raised with the remaining $400,000 split evenly between contributions from the city’s Economic Development Board (EDB) and the city itself. The EDB will also seek state grant dollars for the project through the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The EDB is funded through dividend payments from Marshfield Utilities with the mandate that the money be used for economic development pursuits. The city’s portion of the funding will come via tax incremental financing (TIF). TIF allows the city to borrow to make improvements to a specific district with the anticipation that those improvements will generate higher property tax revenues within the district, which the city can use to pay back its debt.
Main Street Marshfield will contribute $10,000 to the project, and Forward Financial Bank has committed to sponsoring one corner of the square for $25,000. Between the city, EDB, Main Street Marshfield, and Forward Financial, the project has $435,000 in commitments so far.
The Marshfield Common Council approved the concept of the community square in January of this year but still must support a final plan. Director of Development Services Jason Angell said that the council’s final decision would come after such time that enough “funding commitments have been raised to allow the project to begin,” which project planners hope will be around the end of 2016 or early 2017.
“We’re in the silent phase (of fundraising), but yet we need to get word out that these (naming opportunities) are available. So if there’s a company, if there’s a family that wants to support those larger items, we want to definitely have that opportunity to reach them,” said Tammy Meissner, EDB member.
The items up for naming rights include the park itself, for which a $300,000 donation is being asked; the performance stage, $200,000; and splash pad, $100,000. There are also naming rights available for dining areas, a flagpole, and three corners of the square.
Whether or not the project will enter a broader public fundraising stage is still under consideration and likely depends on how much money can be generated through naming opportunities of major aspects of the park, project planners said.
“We’re hoping to really be in a position to break ground in April of next year and really start construction of the square next year,” said Forward Financial Bank President and EDB Chairman Bill Sennholz.
Both Angell and Sennholz said that the community square concept has sparked interest among existing business owners in making improvements to their own establishments and also generated interest in new businesses coming downtown.
“We have a couple of people that are interested in acquiring properties downtown and are working with businesses, new businesses, interested in occupying those spaces,” Angell said.
A fundraising committee member and vice president at Forward Financial Bank, Dave Krause said he thought the community square would “add such a dynamic aspect to the downtown.”
Those interested in donating to the project are asked to contact the city’s Director of Development Services Jason Angell at Jason.Angell@ci.marshfield.wi.us or 715-486-2074 or the Marshfield Area Community Foundation at 715-384-9029.