Wenzel Family Plaza gets contractor
City contracts with Boson
By Hub City Times staff
MARSHFIELD — The same contractor that built Marshfield’s new public library has been chosen to construct a public plaza in the city’s downtown.
The Marshfield Common Council gave the go ahead Aug. 22 to a contract with the Boson Company of Marshfield to construct the Wenzel Family Plaza on the former Marshfield News-Herald site in the 200 block just west of South Central Avenue.
The project had an original budget of $1.3 million dollars. Boson’s bid came in at just over $2 million, so city officials went back to the drawing board to make some cuts to the original plaza design. In addition to that, an additional $200,000 is coming from hotel room tax money through the Marshfield Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) plus $500,000 from the city’s Economic Development Board, which is using the annual dividend it gets from Marshfield Utilities.
To date, $880,000 in contributions has been raised. That includes $630,000 in private donations, $200,000 from the city of Marshfield through additional property taxes generated by business expansion, and a $250,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
Alderman Ed Wagner said the investments were worth it to bring something to downtown Marshfield that will generate more vehicle and pedestrian traffic.
“After we were already a year or two into the project, the Convention & Visitors Bureau brought in a consultant to look at our downtown, and you know what we said? He said that a plaza was the No. 1 most important thing we could do for economic development — not only for the downtown, not only for the city as a whole, but also for the tourism part of the budget also,’which is why you’ll see the CVB looking at this very seriously now,” Wagner said.
Alderman Gordy Earll did not support the plaza. He said it was way over budget, fundraising has not met its goals, and the property should have somehow been kept on the tax rolls.
“How much did the actual donors put into this thing?” asked Earll. “Was this a project that the city decided they wanted to do, and we’re going to do it even though it was $700,000 over budget?”
The city did try to market the site to potential developers a few years ago, but there were no takers.
City Development Services Director Jason Angell said Marshfield is trying to create a downtown gathering space for people and for special events while at the same time trying to draw pedestrian traffic to possibly shop in the downtown stores. He added Marshfield is trying to do what Wausau has already accomplished with its 400 Block Project.
The Wenzel Family Plaza includes park-type amenities like green space, outdoor dining and seating areas, a performance stage for outdoor concerts, and a water element. The plaza will feature bistro-type seating for dining areas, charging hubs for mobile devices, and bicycle parking along with nearby vehicle parking.
The current total cost of the project is $1.8 million dollars. Boson’s contract is for $1.3 million.