Upgrades to Firemen's Park To Take Place in Spring

February 8, 2018

Cathy Kozlowicz

The Courier

Marshall Firemen’s Park is going to be more up-to-date.

After two years of listening to community feedback, Marshall Firemen’s Park will be going through a three-phase improvement project. Phase one, which will begin this year, will include a new playground, parking lot, kayak and canoe launch.

Firemen’s Park will embrace the history of the Marshall Fire Department who started, maintained and ran the park for years, Parks and Recreation Director Brandon Millner said.

On June 13, 2017, the Marshall Fire Department requested the village board terminate the “Stewards of Firemen’s Park” agreement effective between the fire department and the village for the park.

It was then approved that the village would have complete ownership and oversight of the park and the fire department would have free use and be able to use all the equipment for their annual Firemen’s Festival. At the June 13 meeting, Village President Marlin Hensler Jr. and Marshall Fire Department Chief Engineer Bill Blaschka both stated with the village ownership, it is a win-win situation.

Millner wants to maintain the fire department’s legacy at the park.

“We want to show their good work,” Millner said.

This legacy will include having a huge fire truck, “Freddy the Firetruck,” on the playground. It will be on springs that will wobble a bit when children go inside of it. There will be ladders on the side and kids can go in the drivers’ seat and pretend to be driving it. The playground will be red and yellow in support of the fire department.

In the first phase is a parking lot, which will be in close proximity to the baseball field. There will be 60 stalls including handicapped parking stalls.

“Currently, there is no parking lot. A lot of the older residents like to watch a baseball game. They will have a place to park so they don’t have to walk a lot,” Millner said. He also said that the close parking will benefit the families who have games to play. “They don’t have to carry their equipment far,” he said.

If the weather cooperates and all the details work out, Millner would like the parking lot to be completed in spring. If it cannot be completed by June 8, it will have to wait until September.

“We don’t want the construction to interfere with any kind of summer activity,” Millner said. The parking lot, he said, will be done first as that effects the construction and layout of the playground.

Where the playground currently is, families need to walk across the street to access it, and the playground is further away from the baseball fields. Millner said that the playground will be rebuilt so it is closer to the baseball field and the new parking lot.

“If one child has a game, the other children can be in the playground,” Millner said. Parents, he said, can also watch a game as well as watch their other children in the playground.

He also stated that playgrounds must now be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He said that there will be some features that are wheelchair accessible and will be lower to the ground for that reason.

Part of the area will be a Poured In Place (PIP) playground, which is a rubberized material where a wheelchair can easily go through. There will also be swings and slides in this playground

“This playground will be geared towards everyone from ages two to 12 to be able to enjoy the playground,” he said.

When it is time to build the playground, Millner wants to organize a community day. He will contract with a local playground installation company. They will provide the supervision and the equipment, and the village will provide volunteers and staff from the Public Works and Recreation Departments as well as other volunteers and groups from the community. At the earliest, this can take place in the spring, but may need to wait until the fall so it does not interfere with the park’s summer activities.

The last development to take place this summer will be a canoe and kayak launch. It was donated by the Marshall Lions Club.

There will be canoes and kayaks available for rental, and a pier will be constructed.

This summer, all 50 of the ash trees need to be removed. Because of the Emerald Ash Borer insect, the trees are diseased and not functional. Millner is not sure if all the trees would be removed at once or a few at a time. Different trees will be planted.

“We may get some oaks and some maples. We don’t want to get all one kind,” he said.

In 2019-2020, Millner is looking at phrase two and phrase three of the project, which will depend on grants. Phase two will be asphalt walking trails around the lake, which will be about a half- mile.

Phase three will be updating the main building. Currently, there are seven buildings in Firemen’s Park. Millner said some buildings may be consolidated to add more green space.

“The main building may be remodeled to have more rental options,” Millner said.

The upgrades to Firemen’s Park may also be a part of a new Tax Incremental District (TID) that may open in April. It would help cover the costs and lessen the burden on the taxpayers.

“We will be giving the park an updated look,” Millner said.

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