Extensive remodeling could come to Winnebago Park.
A concept design for the Winnebago Park Master Plan was unveiled Monday during an open house held in the park.
City of Tomah Parks and Recreation director Joe Protz said work began earlier this year to create a master plan to guide improvements and the future of the park.
Protz said the city decided to create a master plan because improvements are needed in the park. He described the public restrooms as an “eyesore − it’s kind of run down and is a bigger complaint for the park users.”
“We want to look at how we can redesign the park if we’re going to make a major improvement like that because bathroom facilities in parks aren’t the cheapest at this time,” he said. “So we want to look at an overall concept of where we want to put things for the future in the park.”
Some of the design goals are to improve the function of the park, upgrade restrooms, improve the boat launch, increase parking, increase trails throughout the park, improve the enclosed shelter, provide onsite recreation equipment storage and maintain shoreline vehicle circulation during winter.
Those goals lead to new elements, which include:
- A new enclosed shelter with surrounding hard surface break-out space.
- Outlook areas on Lake Tomah.
- Two stand-alone bathrooms.
- An improved boat launch area with two lanes.
- A small watercraft launch area.
- A half-mile loop of trails.
- Increased parking with overflow parking on Brandon Street.
- A winter drive-through area which would be closed in summer.
Two of biggest proposed changes are elimination of the baseball field and road surrounding the park.
The baseball field would be replaced with a large, enclosed shelter, and the road would be replaced with walking trails; however, it would be open for driving seasonally for the holiday lights.
Tomah Lake Committee member Al Burnham said he had mixed emotions about the concept design.
“There are definitely some needs, I think, to upgrade the place, but I don’t know if it needs to be as elaborate as what they presented,” he said. “Hopefully they sit down and talk about these things and make the right decisions.”
Burnham agreed that the improvements and changes are for the future generations.
“If it’s the right thing to do, let’s do it, but I think it needs to be done very cautiously,” he said.
Fellow attendee Sue Moser said she came to the meeting because she used to live in the area and wanted to see what the proposed changes were. She’s also conflicted about some of the changes, namely removal of the baseball field, but knows and trusts the people on the Parks and Recreation Commission.
“They also have a lot of the same concerns because they also have raised families in this area and used this park when their kids were little,” she said.
Overall, Moser believes the concept, developed by engineering firm CBS² of Chippewa Falls, is a good design.
“It helps to see the picture ... I’m excited about seeing this park continue on,” she said.
Tomah mayor Mike Murray also attended the open house. He said attending the meeting and viewing the concept design allowed him to get a clearer vision of what is being proposed. He said it allows him to look at the pros and cons in his own mind as mayor and as a citizen.
The concept design is still in its infancy, Murray said, and it can and most likely will change.
“We will never truly understand feasibility until we put it down on paper. Once you start seeing it on paper than you can make the adjustments,” he said. “The city has a checkbook, they have a parameter we have to exist within just like any average household has a budget they have to exist within. So let’s look at the feasibility not only from a structural perspective but from a financial perspective.”