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City park band shell proposed

City park band shell proposed City park band shell proposed

The success of Medford’s Parkfest concert last August has sparked a movement to build a performance stage in the Medford City Park.

Bandshell Committee members Billie Hartwig, Jake Emmerich and Sue Ackerman made an informational pitch on Monday to Medford’s City Council regarding the launch of the project, which is in its early stages of planning, fundraising and design.

The Parkfest concert on Aug. 19, 2021 was headlined by singer/songwriter Chris Kroeze and drew an estimated crowd of about 3,000 people. Hartwig said the Medford Chamber of Commerce and event sponsors are closing in on signing a headlining act for the 2022 event.

“After last year’s Parkfest we really got a lot of positive feedback about how Parkfest went and that everyone thought there was a real need for a band shelter down in the park area,” Hartwig told the council. “So we have assembled a committee to take a look at that and we just wanted to bring the idea to you guys tonight so you had an idea that we are launching this campaign.” The committee foresees the stage being used in a variety of ways. While musical acts would figure to be the main focus, Emmerich noted that church services in the park are becoming more common, the stage could serve as an ideal spot for weddings, plays or dance shows by Medford’s Feet-N-Motion students.

“There’s a myriad of different events that this stage could be used for and create revenue for the town,” Emmerich said.

Hartwig said the committee first looked at building on the current skate park location so the warming shelter could be incorporated, but members have since changed their focus to the north along the edge of the current gravel parking lot that sits along Centennial Parkway. The thought is that the stage would face into the park hill. Emmerich also said an open design could offer a scenic backdrop with the Millpond behind the stage.

“We’re seeing more and more church services in the park, they’re using facilities down there to make that happen,” Emmerich said. “What a great opportunity to use the acoustics of the hill and shoot it up that way.”

“We were able to use Park Fest last year to see how people would react,” Hartwig said. “Going into that event we thought that we’d really fill up that gravel lot. To our surprise, everyone was almost on that hill. So it’s a great natural spot for people to sit.”

Council member Greg Knight noted a bandshell was just constructed and opened last summer in the city of Phillips.

“It gets used a lot,” he said. “One of the spin-off benefi ts is that organizations can set up food stations and such to raise money for clubs and things like that. It’s brought a whole lot of interesting talent out of the woodwork that you had in your area that you didn’t know existed that come and perform. It’s pretty neat. They really like it in Phillips.”

There currently is no set design plan and costs are uncertain, though committee members said their initial fundraising target is in the range of $200,000 to $250,000. “We’ve assembled a list of our favorite (designs) and we really think that we can take aspects of all of them and create something that will be beneficial for the Medford park,” Hartwig said. “We are researching bandshells and performance stages from this part of the country,” Ackerman said. “In Wisconsin there’s different needs than those out in California.”

Hartwig also noted that launching this project now allows committee members to work hand in hand with those currently working on developing a new downtown park.

“We’re hoping we can kind of partner up with the downtown park and really share our fundraising and help each other out,” she said. “That’s really what’s spurring us to get this going.”

Council member Mike Bub urged the committee members to make sure the stage is large enough when they do decide on a design. Hartwig said the initial thought is 36 by 40 feet.

“I graduated from Oconomowoc and they have a band shell sort of thing,” Bub said. “Every Wednesday night in June, July and August there’s a concert. I know Menomonie does one. It’s really amazing how I think these things died out but now they’re making a really big comeback.”

City coordinator Joe Harris said the proposed location shouldn’t affect the park campground or sledding hill.

“We looked at it. There’s no utilities in there,” Harris said. “The sewer and water are actually not that far away and power is up by the shelters. It’s all relatively close.”

Council member Dave Brandner called the project a great idea but questioned who would be in charge of its operations.

“I think it’s still up for discussion on all of that fun stuff,” Emmerich said. “Obviously there’s going to be maintenance and upkeep and whatever else. A portion of that can certainly be done by our committee. It’s been brought to Joe’s attention. “

“We’re negotiating. Let’s put it that way,” Harris said.

Mayor Mike Wellner