Shawano residents listen to park information at Tuesday night’s open house
The city of Shawano held an open house at city hall for voters to learn more information on the upcoming referendum vote, that will guide the Shawano Common Council with the decision to approve the borrowing of $1.85 million to fund the construction and installation of Franklin Park, Smalley Park, and a splash pad.
“We want to improve the quality of life for people that live here,” explained Shawano Park and Rec Director Matt Hendricks. “We want to improve our appeal for people who don’t live here that are looking for a place to move, or visit. Often parks can been seen as icing on the cake. What we do know is that there is substantial evidence that parks have a tremendous impact to our quality of life and to our community. We’re seeing that more and more.”
The construction for these parks and a splash pad will continue, regardless of which direction the Shawano Common Council votes after the referendum vote, it will just be a lengthier process, about 10 years says Hendricks.
He believes the with improvement to these parks now, however, it has a chance to attract potential residents and make a quicker impact on improving the overall quality of life in the community.
“We know that property values of homes are positively affected,” said Hendricks. “Home A and home B, which are the same same square footage, design, and what not. Home A is closer to a park, it’s going to be worth more. We know that municipal revenues are increased. That can happen directly, or indirectly. We also know that people are more mobile than they were even a generation or two ago, so parks help those.”
At the open house, residents were encouraged about Franklin Park’s potential.
“I’m excited about the prospect of having a park that can be used for other events and aspects of the community,” said one community member who spoke up. “This one particularly, because of its location downtown and the central business district, is a great opportunity for people to gather and do things.”
“Matt, I think you hit the nail on the head that [the park] could be so much more useful,” said another community member at the open house. “You already see the farmer’s market out there. I can see ice sculptures in the winter, or something like that. Real tourism draws.”
Hendricks admits while it’s important and encouraging to have such a positive response from those in attendance to Tuesday night’s open house, there’s still work to be done in addressing the concerns of those who may be skeptical to the projects.
For those who may not have had the opportunity to attend Tuesday’s informational meeting, there will be three other available, beginning next Wednesday Feb. 15, Tuesday, March 7, and Wednesday, March 15, dates begin at 6 p.m.