(Rendering done by Schalow’s Nursery Inc.)
By Adam Hocking
MARSHSHFIELD — A landscaped park abundant with flowers and Marshfield-themed murals will soon be coming to Central Avenue in Marshfield. The Marshfield Common Council approved a development agreement Tuesday night between Rogers Cinema Inc. and the city of Marshfield, which would see currently vacant buildings at 451 and 453 S. Central Ave. razed, and in their place a landscaped terrace and garden park area will be built.
In the agreement Rogers Cinema Inc., which owns the properties that are planned to be razed, is responsible for demolishing those buildings and developing and maintaining the landscaping at the site until ownership is transferred to the city. The agreement calls for Rogers Cinema Inc. to deed the land to the city on or before Oct. 14, and Paul Rogers, owner of Rogers Cinema Inc., said, “We’re very optimistic we’re going to raise the money and finish the project and dedicate on Oct. 15.”
The project, which will be named “Marilyn Hardacre Park,” will mostly be funded by private money with a donation fund set up at the Marshfield Area Community Foundation. The city will contribute $25,000 to the project as part of the development agreement with funds coming from the Economic Development Board. The city will still have to pass a budget resolution at a future meeting to officially allocate $25,000 to the project.
Once Rogers Cinema Inc. transfers the land to the city, the city will be responsible for maintaining the area, and City Administrator Steve Barg said it will likely be the Public Works Department charged with that duty.
Doine Excavating, who will demolish the current structures on the property, said that, pending a permit for the work, demolition will begin on or before June 15.
Rogers said that he had wanted to do something to honor the legacy of Hardacre, a former Marshfield Mayor, for about the last five years.
“We never recognized her appropriately as far as I was concerned,” Rogers said. Rogers cited numerous projects Hardacre has been involved in over the years — from Hope Lodge, to the development of Veteran’s Parkway, and many more.
“She was the vision. She was the force,” Rogers said.
The total cost of the project is about $300,000, Rogers said, and added that thus far about $100,000 has been raised.
Rogers said that any money raised over the amount needed to complete the project would go into a fund, under the direction of Main Street Marshfield, which could then draw out up to $5,000 a year to bring entertainers to the park.
The park project aligns closely with the vision of the Downtown Master Plan, which the council unanimously approved in March. The Downtown Master Plan is a document that defines goals and a vision for the future of downtown Marshfield. Two of the goals in the Master Plan were to:
—Create an attractive downtown environment through investments in streetscaping, art installations, parks and greenspaces, and quality private redevelopment projects.
—Provide a centrally-located, visible, and functional gathering space where residents and visitors can congregate informally or during downtown events.
Rogers said that as part of the project murals are planned for the walls of the park that will capture “Marshfield past and present.”
“Not only is this a tribute to Marilyn. This is going to be a beautiful piece of art and green space on our downtown,” Rogers said.
Main Street Marshfield Executive Director Angie Eloranta said that the park would both honor Hardacre’s legacy and be an opportunity to bring more cultural enrichment to downtown Marshfield.
“The Hardacre Park honors someone who has done — and continues to do — so much for our community. This park will continue Marilyn’s goodwill by improving the downtown in so many ways. The park will give downtown a place to relax and visit with friends. It will also give Main Street Marshfield the opportunity to use it for specific event programming that would bring more arts, music, and culture to the downtown. We are very excited about the Hardacre Park and the opportunities it presents,” Eloranta said.
Donations to the project can be made to the Marshfield Area Community Foundation. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 456, dropped off at the Marshfield Area Community Foundations office at 907 N. Central Ave., or made online at marshfieldareacommunityfoundation.org. Checks should specify “Hardacre Park” in the memo line.