Shawano to update outdoor recreation plan

Council agrees to pay ECWRPC $13K to develop outdoor projects for city for next five years
Lee Pulaski
City Editor

The city of Shawano is due for an update to its outdoor recreation plan, and the Shawano Common Council signed off Nov. 8 on working with East Central Regional Wisconsin Planning Commission to map out the city’s outdoor intentions for five years.

The outline provided by the commission shows the process would start next February or March. They will meet with the park and recreation commission to look at the park resources the city has and perform an analysis to look at what commissioners see as needs for the city. The plan is expected to be delivered to the council in September 2024.

ECWRPC also plans to conduct a public survey via the internet to get community input, and there’s an option for holding stakeholder meetings and focus groups. Information would be collected through July 31.

The next step would be meeting with the city in early August to draft the plan and have the park and recreation commission approve it, which would then be published online for 30 days. The outline indicates no public hearings would take place.

The cost for the work is expected to be $13,315.

Matt Hendricks, park and recreation director, told the council that the city updates its outdoor plan every five years. The new plan, once approved, would take effect in 2025.

“The reason that it’s important is that you’re not eligible for any sort of DNR (Department of Natural Resources) money unless you have an approved one,” Hendricks said. “That adds up to a lot. We just got an RBF (Recreational Boating Facilities) grant for Huckleberry Harbor.”

Hendricks noted that working with ECWRPC, which has been done on the last two updates to the plan, is much less expensive than working with a private firm, because the city is a member of the commission. He said getting someone from the private sector to help update the plan would be at least double the amount ECWRPC is asking for.

“We’ve been very happy with them,” Hendricks said. “There’s no reason not to continue with them, I guess.”

The plan also gives parks staff guidance when it comes to preparing for capital projects, Hendricks said. Projects can be prepared knowing that they have community input on what is needed or wanted for activities and facilities.

“We’ve completed a lot of things with the existing plan,” Hendricks said. “It’s a pretty awesome thing to say, so now we’ll build a new one.”

Having the plan is an extra boost when it comes to seeking out alternative funding sources beyond the city tax levy or the DNR, according to Hendricks.

“When a granting or community source asks, ‘The city is wanting to build Park X,’ it gives confidence to them that it’s not just a staff member saying this,” he said. “It’s been approved by at least three or four commissions. These documents are used even for private foundations and shows there’s intention behind it and not just someone saying, ‘Oh, I want a water slide in my neighborhood.’”