WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) - Neighborhood residents packed a meeting room at Wausau’s Boys and Girls Club to discuss proposed changes at Wausau’s Athletic Park Tuesday.
Part of the renovation plan calls for removing two old houses and creating a community park adjacent to the stadium.
Residents asked about parking issues, street lighting concerns, and the proposed closing of one block of 5th Street between Wausau and Union Avenues. There was also concern about parking and the public address system being too loud at times, but even with these issues, one resident found out quickly that the neighborhood loves it’s ballpark. “The true progress would be to tear that old, decrepit thing down.” That comment brought a room full of responses, all disagreeing.
Alderman and former City Attorney Bill Nagle supports the renovation and investment, saying old cities need to recycle and redevelop at times which is not always easy or cheap. “Anybody can go to a cornfield or a forest in Rib Mountain and knock it down and put 40 acres of asphalt, brand new glass and brand new metal, that’s easy. But to recycle old houses and old buildings and old streets takes a lot of money and a lot of intelligence, because these houses were already there. These garages were already there.”
Mayor Jim Tipple says it was good to hear from the neighborhood and find out about these concerns. “We took some good notes tonight, and we’ll check out everybody’s concerns and see which ones can be fixed. Obviously, we can’t close off access to somebody’s garage and so we’re going to take a look at that. We tried to think of everything, all of the possibilities and all of the pros and cons to this project. There’s a few minor details to work out, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”
Wausau Woodchucks owner Mark Macdonald is planning a 2-point-7 million dollar renovation of the baseball stadium in phases, starting with a new grandstand this fall. He is working with the city to develop the community park next to Athletic Park.
The majority of the area residents were in favor of maintaining a baseball park and proceeding with the renovations, but would like to address the access, parking, and lighting concerns too.