By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — City leaders met Tuesday night for the second in a series of strategic planning meetings to discuss broad ideas on creating a better future for Marshfield. It is important to note that these discussions are preliminary and designed to allow for brainstorming, and nothing coming from the meetings represents any imminent developments for the city.
In the group’s first strategic planning session in February, they defined a few key areas to focus their discussions as they move forward. Those categories were recreational facilities, city facilities, economic development, infrastructure, financial management, partnerships for the city, and communication with citizens.
At Tuesday’s meeting the Marshfield Common Council, along with City Administrator Steve Barg and Mayor Chris Meyer, focused much of their discussion on the state of recreation and quality of life in Marshfield.
Alderwoman Char Smith has consistently stated a need to better utilize the Marshfield Fairgrounds and brought up the idea that a multi-purpose recreational facility could be a solution to maximizing that space.
“I’d put a sports center there,” Smith said. “My vision would be an indoor/outdoor swimming pool. You could do some indoor tennis courts. You could do some indoor batting cages.”
A number of city leaders agreed that the city’s recreational opportunities are too spread out and provide little opportunity to bring the community together in one central location.
“There’s no place where the community actually comes together except at the fairgrounds during the fair,” said Alderwoman Rebecca Spiros. “There’s a little something in every little corner (of Marshfield).”
Alderman Chris Jockheck also expressed the need for better swimming facilities in the city.
“I think we are hurting ourselves for a vision of this community when people come around and they see what we have for swimming opportunities. We don’t have a lake, we don’t have (a) river, and we have an antiquated pool,” Jockheck said.
Barg added, “I think water is such an important amenity, and obviously in Marshfield we don’t have it, but we need to have opportunities for people to enjoy water in some sense.”
When asked by Barg whether they thought Marshfield’s recreation facilities and offerings were above average, average, or below average, no council member chose above average.
Alderman Tom Buttke said that part of the issue with Marshfield’s recreational scene lies in the lack of knowledge about what actually exists for people to do in the city.
“A lot of these things that we have are the best kept secrets we have in town. You know, there still is a fair amount of stuff to do, but the word isn’t out there,” Buttke said.
The group discussed the need to have a better resource for informing the community of the recreational opportunities that do exist in the city and expressed that if there was a central resource, there might be more widespread community participation.
Alderman Ed Wagner said that creating a central resource to find information about community events and recreational opportunities would be “low hanging fruit” and could be relatively easily done. Spiros added that developing a comprehensive “master list” of all the recreational opportunities in Marshfield would be a positive development.
The next strategic planning meeting is scheduled for April 28.