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City of Rhinelander Begins Phase I of Hodag Park Improvements this Summer

Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The City of Rhinelander has big plans for Hodag Park.

Since 2014, the city has been working with the community and user groups to form a master plan for the park.

Phase one of that plan starts this summer.

“Hodag Park really is the city’s gem,” said City Administrator Zach Vruwink.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR
Hodag Park.

Situated along Boom Lake on the north side of Rhinelander, Hodag Park is the city’s largest.

It’s also the park the City of Rhinelander sees as having the most potential, according to Vruwink.

“Given that it’s very accessible to the public and its prominent location, it’s really viewed as the priority area at this time. There’s subsequent planning efforts that have been discussed for other parks like a skate park as well some of the improvements to Pioneer Park, but at this point the initial phase for park improvements are focused at Hodag Park,” said Vruwink.

A major part of phase one will be building an amphitheater and entertainment area along with the things that go with it like ADA accessible paths and a sound system.

The goal is to have that completed by next spring.

Credit City of Rhinelander
Concepts for Hodag Park as part of the Master Plan.

Upon overall completion, the park will have:

  • Community gathering space and venues for ceremonies, festivals, weddings and reunions. Entertainment areas for music performances, art fairs and flea markets.
  • Enhancement of the park’s natural areas with minimal environmental disruption; enhancement of the existing baseball fields and playground.
  • New amenities, including a main pavilion, amphitheater, splash pad and more.
  • Increased recreational opportunities for boaters, swimmers, bikers and walkers.
  • More parking space and seating area.
  • More fishing and boating docks.
  • Improved ADA accessibility to nearby walkways and parking lots.
  • Open spaces for grilling, frisbee and other leisure activities.

The idea is to create a space that can support a variety of activities, recreation, and events.
“Overall, it’s a great master plan that brings about a few additional uses and builds on or enhances what’s already known a very beautiful, large city park,” said Vruwink.

The City of Rhinelander has pledged $100,000 to the project.

Credit Katie Thoresen/WXPR

The Rhinelander Community Foundation has set up fundraising campaign for it. An anonymous donor has also pledged a $100,000 matching grant.

“The sooner we raise the match the sooner the City’s pledge of its $100,000 dollars can be unlocked for us to begin construction,” said Vruwink. “We hope we’ll be able to do something late this summer and subsequently that next year we’d have a grand opening of the improvements there at Hodag Park.”

To make a tax-deductible donation to the Hodag Park Improvement Fund, checks should be made payable to the Rhinelander Community Foundation with ‘Hodag Park Improvement Fund’ written in the memo line and mailed to:

Rhinelander Community Foundation
PO Box 1523
Rhinelander, WI 54501

Donations to the Hodag Park Improvement Fund are also available via PayPal. Visit www.rhinelandercommunityfoundation.com, click on “giving” and then “online giving” to be redirected to PayPal. Donors can also find instructions for gifts of stock.

Katie Thoresen is WXPR's News Director/Vice President.
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