City officials unveiled a new vision for Beaver Dam’s historic Swan City Park Thursday.
More than 40 people at a meeting viewed a new master plan for the park presented by Dan Williams, senior landscape architect for MSA, the city’s contracted engineering firm. The Common Council approved spending $19,000 for MSA’s assistance in putting together a master plan last year.
To get feedback for the plan, the city held meetings with stakeholders and put out an online survey last May that received over 1,000 responses.
Officials did not provide specifics about expected costs, but said the work would be done in phases and would include grants and fundraising. The plan calls for a splash pad to replace the aging wading pool, a garden near the Spring House, playground upgrades, a second basketball court and more.
“All of these conversations are how much do you want to pay, how does it get paid for and what can we afford,” Mayor Becky Glewen said. “We could fill in the lagoons. You can just fill them in, have green space. You could fill in the pool and just have green space, but in all the conversations that’s not really what we want.”
The proposal includes repairing the stagnant lagoons and the retaining walls, a priority for Mayor Becky Glewen. Something needs to replace the non-functional fountain to help aerate the water. The master plan also revives the idea of a splash pad to replace the aging wading pool. A major part is adding a new circular walking path around the park following the old stone columns.
“We were trying to figure out why are the light poles in the middle of the grass?” Williams said. “It doesn’t make sense.”
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A red pencil hand drawing from 1940 uncovered in the Swan Park files, revealed there used to be circular road that went around the park and followed the lights.
“We started to hear that more people wanted to walk in the park and have more places to walk, so that was an important piece of history to find,” Williams said. Some of the lighting columns have been removed, and were used to construct an existing fireplace in one of the park shelters.
Community members in attendance shot down the idea of removing the stone wall around the playground. Williams said there might be 10 or fewer trees that would need to be removed, including two trees near the lagoons that are damaging the structures there. Parks supervisor John Neumann said they are continuously planting new trees and the existing trees at the park are otherwise expected to last.
Some of aspects of the master plan include removing some of the bench seating at the band shell and replacing it with grass terraces and changing the position of the horseshoe pits by 90 degrees. Ice skating could make a comeback.
New utility infrastructure would help reduce the use of extension cords for the holiday light show that has been put up in the park for the last three years.
Going forward, council members will discuss how to fund the plan. The lagoons and new walking path might be at the top of the list.
“I love grants,” Glewen said. “I’m all about accessing money that doesn’t haven’t to come directly from the city, so if there’s a lot of trail money, that just makes complete sense that we should be focusing on it. Let’s get the pathway all laid out then as well.”
Last year, the Common Council approved borrowing $568,000 for other parks maintenance projects in 2020 that include replacing the bleachers at Vo-Tech Park, making improvements at the City Athletic Field, river bank improvements and work at Patrick Parker Conley Park and at Lakeview Park.