Aldermen hear plans for permanent outdoor sculpture park
By Mike Warren
MARSHFIELD – During its Oct. 26 meeting, the Marshfield Common Council heard plans that would create an outdoor sculpture park featuring Clyde Wynia’s art in Wildwood Park.
Marshfield aldermen heard from Mark Nelson, representing a citizens group taking up the effort.
“We’ve been talking to Clyde to see if he’d be willing to let us build an outdoor sculpture park of his art in the city’s Wildwood Park – a permanent home for Jurustic Park when the time comes,” he said.
Nelson is one of a dozen residents who have now formed the Friends of Jurustic Park.
“Over the years Clyde has received offers to purchase his large-scale sculptures, but thankfully he and his wife Nancy expressed to us preference to keep this collection together and open to the public if possible, in Marshfield,” he added
The Wynia’s have given Nelson’s group the verbal “okay” to seek Wildwood Park as the ultimate destination for Jurustic Park.
“2020 was Jurustic Park’s busiest year, and 2021 is shaping up to be the same. And right now, Clyde and Nancy happily run this park together, and they’re enjoying life a lot. What our group is really doing is looking toward the future, because we want to ensure that a sculpture park of Clyde’s art will be open to the public long after Clyde decides to lay down his welding tools,” he explained.
“We picked Wildwood because we figured that Marshfield’s flagship park – with all of its 157 acres – certainly would have the perfect location for Jurustic Park to ultimately settle. It’s close to other attractions like the zoo and the aquatic center, and not far from downtown. It’s well-connected by bike trails, streets and sidewalks. It’s a great place for an outing. It’s easy for out-of-town people to find in a fairly simple way. And of course, there’s something for everybody in that area.”
Specifically, the group has targeted the area between the Wildwood Station pavilion and the Lower Pond.
“The site has some beautiful, mature trees, which we would largely hope to retain. It’s open enough to allow Clyde’s creatures to get some sunlight, which helps them keep their distinct iron-age color. It’s got parking. It’s got a great location near the Lower Pond that will provide some outstanding long views of the sculptures – from across the pond, from the zoo area, from elsewhere,” Nelson said.
Nelson also says a local business has already committed the funding to help create a design for the sculpture, should the Council give its blessing.
If the common council signs off on the park’s relocation, The Friends of Jurustic Park have indicated they would hire a first-rate design firm that specializes in projects of this sort. Nelson estimates that price tag will be in the range of $15-20,000.
Jurustic Park is currently located at 112021 Old, Sugar Bush Lane, Marshfield.
A shrinking student body
Aldermen also heard about a drop in enrollment at the UWSP-Marshfield campus. Provost Marty Loy told the council enrollment has been dropping steadily for the past three years. In the 2018-19 academic year, the two-year campus had 545 students, which was a one-percent increase from the year prior. But the following year, enrollment dropped a whopping 21 percent, to 431, and another 8 percent in 2020-21, to 395.
Currently, the student body stands at 337, down 15% from a year ago. However, there was a 15 percent increase in the number of incoming freshmen.
Loy said the overall numbers are down for two reasons – the pandemic and the economy.
“This isn’t something that just happened here in Marshfield,” according to Loy. “This happened all over the country. And in Wisconsin, when we look at UW institutions, there were a lot of students who – during the pandemic – enrolled as freshmen. It wasn’t the experience that they wanted because it was all online because of COVID. And then jobs were plentiful, and so a lot of people stepped out between their freshman and sophomore years. A better number to look at is the increase in freshman over the past year, because now they’re getting an in-person experience.”
City Hall hours revisited
Marshfield aldermen also reaffirmed a September decision to close City Hall at noon on Fridays from now on. The council did so after hearing from a resident who said aldermen took action on something that was not listed as an agenda item for its September 14 meeting.
“I think the vote taken by the Council should be rescinded, as there was no mention in the city Council agenda that there was to be a decision made regarding closing City Hall every Friday at noon,” Celia Giannoni told the aldermen during the meeting’s Public Comment Period.
“I ran it by the city attorney,” Marshfield City Administrator Steve Barg told the Hub City Times in a Sept. 27 interview. “He agreed with her, basically. He said, ‘The Council didn’t do anything wrong, illegal or anything, but to be in good practice it probably shouldn’t have been handled that way, and so put it back up for ratification.’ That’s what we did. The Council discussed it again, had some pros and cons and ultimately voted to ratify continuing this all year-round.”
“I remain opposed to this,” said Alderman Ed Wagner, prior to his third vote against the concept. “I’ve been in this business many, many years, and it’s been pounded into me – into my very DNA – that what we’re here for is public service. We’re not here to serve ourselves or our staff as we may wish to do it. I’ve heard arguments that we’ve got to do this or we’ll lose employees. We are one of the most highly-desired employers in the city. What we just did was deprive the public of approximately 200 hours a year of the availability to our staff and their services.”
Wagner joined Alderman Peter Hendler in voting “no.”
The September 14 decision was made during a review of how the reduced-hours format worked during a one-month period, Aug.13 and Sept. 3.
During her Oct. 26 comments, Giannoni added, “I think the trial does not give a true picture of the use of City Hall on Friday afternoons. Your pilot program was done in the summer when, most of the time, people are not dealing with city issues during the summer. It would appear that, in the summers, city hall might have light use, as people are out of town. This might give a false sense of the use of city hall on Friday afternoons.”
Meanwhile, Barg says city employees are all getting their 40-hour work weeks in, and “the employees here have really appreciated it. And some employees stay here on Friday afternoon. They do. They like five eight-hour days, and they’re continuing to do that. But there’s flexibility to work with your supervisor on that, and I think they appreciate that. The thing we’ve tried to say is if anybody needs to meet with somebody or talk to somebody on Friday, let us know and we’ll work it out.”
City Hall continues its regular hours of 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday.