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Wakefield planners close in on recreation plan


January 16, 2020

P.J. Glisson/Daily Globe

MEMBERS OF the Wakefield Planning Commission collaborate on refinements of the city's pending recreation plan at a Tuesday night meeting. From left are Marsha Vestich, Mayor Dale White, Rob Lane, James Anderson, Marco Movrich, Vice-Chair Tara Hamilton and Chair Karen Manson. Not shown are City Manager Rob Brown and City Clerk Sue Ahonen.


Wakefield - Thanks to continuing progress on Wakefield's pending recreation plan, city residents can expect to have an opportunity soon to provide feedback regarding a number of options for development.

At a Tuesday evening meeting of the planning commission, Wakefield City Manager Rob Brown said he hopes to post a "Survey Monkey" online on the city's Facebook and/or website pages, perhaps within the next week. Hard copies also will be distributed.

Brown said he also wants to schedule a public input session, during which members of the community can engage "interactively" with potential ideas by, for instance, attaching Velcro dots to their favorite projects up for consideration.

Toward that end, commission members Tara Hamilton, Marsha Vestich and Rob Lane agreed to form a committee to plan an event for the near future.

During Tuesday's meeting, Brown summarized the remainder of the plan that members have been working on in recent months.

The city manager explained the importance of acknowledging how various areas of the city measure up to the Americans with Disabilities Act.

He said some city assets, such as the Sunday Lake trail, are fairly compliant while other areas, such as the campground, are at a halfway mark, with showers that likely meet the proper standards, but entry doors and access grounds that do not.

The city's softball field area is worst of all, he noted. "That's the lowest ranking we gave anything," he said, adding that even parking is an issue there.

Meanwhile, other areas further from the downtown also raise questions regarding the best way in which to categorize them.

Two examples are the Split Rock Trails area in Section 10, east of Sunday Lake, and the Plymouth Lake that now exists in the former Plymouth Mine locale near Gogebic Medical Care Facility.

In relation to the state Department of Natural Resources, Brown said both locations might be ideal candidates for a natural resources inventory "because the DNR does like to see green space."

As he explained, "It does help us with grants because the state likes to see a balance of developed and undeveloped land."

Moreover, as Mayor Dale White pointed out regarding Section 10, "The city doesn't have the money to declare it a park."

Brown also explained that, even though the city does not own the majority of the Plymouth Lake area, it does control access to it, which gives it the right to consider declaring the area as a natural resource.

Beyond those issues, Brown said the city also will need to list its overall goals and objectives within the recreation plan.

"For us to write a grant, it's got to qualify as either a goal or an objective," he said.

Although it's advisable in some cases to be specific about city desires, Brown added that it's also helpful for some goals to cover broad enough ground that they basically can apply to any given grant objective.

As an example, he joked that one goal could include the city's hope for an environment that is not only safe and comfortable, but that also makes it clear that "we want to get young people off their phones."

He hopes that budding plans for more defined entertainment in Eddy Park or at the lake's Southwest Park will provide incentives for teenagers and the public at large to enjoy the lake area more.

Brown and other officials envision events such as Music in the Park, Christmas in July, and Trick or Treating in August as just a few possible examples.

After incorporating public opinions into the final draft of the recreation plan, commission members then will present it to the City Council for approval. Brown's goal is to submit the plan to the state by spring in order to qualify the city for at least some smaller grant applications within this calendar year.


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