Tuesday’s common council meeting saw the presentation for a new science building at UW-Marshfield, an emotional retirement, and the final approval of the Downtown Master Plan
By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — Officials from the University of Wisconsin Marshfield/Wood County (UW-M/WC ) spoke before the common council on Tuesday night, presenting the need for a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) facility and for a renovation to the existing Aldo Leopold Science Building on campus. Officials from the school asked the city to contribute $1 million to the proposed $8 million project and have asked Wood County for that same contribution.
UW-M/WC is running a capital campaign in conjunction with the funding requests to the city and county that aims to raise $6 million. University officials said that $2.74 million has already been raised in the quiet phase of the capital campaign.
The plans call for the new STEM building to be approximately 18,000 square feet. The existing Aldo Leopold Science Building is about 21,000 square feet. Roughly 60 percent of the project cost would be dedicated to the new facility, and the remainder would be spent on renovations to the existing science building, university officials said.
University officials said the project was necessary for a number of reasons including that 50 percent of UW-M/WC students major in STEM-related fields, the current facilities are outdated and raise health and safety concerns, and that there are growing professional opportunities in STEM fields.
Dr. Iddi Adam, Associate Campus Dean for Academic Affairs at UW-M/WC, said that a new facility was vital for the university to adequately prepare students for the job market.
Adam said the University needs to be able to “say to our students without any doubt that if you come to us and you come to us with the intention of (working) in the STEM field, we’ll be able to get you ready for the jobs that you need.”
Assistant Dean Michelle Boernke emphasized the need for more modern facilities and said the current science building has seen few improvements since its original construction.
“Of the 14 UW colleges, UW-Marshfield/Wood County is the oldest and most outdated with their STEM facilities. We have had very few changes since 1964,” Boernke said. “We do want to bring our campus into the next 50 years, and we think our students do deserve that now and in the future.”
The proposed timeline of the campaign would kick off public fundraising early this summer and end in the summer of 2016. The plans then dictate that groundbreaking on the new facility would begin in the summer of 2016, and the entire project—including renovations to the existing science building—would be completed by December of 2017.
The common council will discuss and potentially take action in regards to providing funds for the STEM project at their next meeting on March 24.
An emotional goodbye for Ed Englehart
Parks and Recreation Department Director Ed Englehart is retiring this month after 20 years of service to the City of Marshfield.
“Ed has had just a wonderful 20 years here at the city of Marshfield,” City Administrator Steve Barg said at Tuesday’s common council meeting. “Personally, even beyond professionally, Ed has just been a pleasure to work with.”
Barg later added, “You know you spend five years somewhere, that’s pretty good. Ten years, you get to the point where you’ve given two decades of your life to a pursuit of any kind, and that’s honorable, and his public service has just been exceptional, and the city of Marshfield has been blessed.”
Barg cited a number of the projects Englehart has been involved with over his time with the city, including the Wildwood Station building, the Steven J. Miller Recreation Area, Griese Park, the development of the city trail system, and the new grizzly bear exhibit that will begin construction this year.
Englehart gave an emotional goodbye at the common council meeting on Tuesday. See video of his farewell here.
Downtown Master Plan gets council approval
The Downtown Marshfield Master Plan passed by a unanimous 10-0 vote on Tuesday night. The plan outlines areas for potential growth in the downtown area and strategies for development.
Goals in the plan include creating a town square gathering space in the downtown with the old News-Herald building site as a potential location, adding more residential and office space to the downtown, and to promote the area as the city’s top destination for dining, shopping, and entertainment.
Aldreman Ed Wagner said that he felt the master plan was extremely well thought out.
“This is probably the most well-defined work program I’ve ever seen for downtown,” Wagner said. “I’m more enthused by this plan than any plan I’ve seen in the past 20 years.”