Worzella dream for Lake Pacawa Park begins with band shell
Portage County Gazette
By Heather McDonald
Clarence and Regina Worzella knew what they had was a gem, not just for the town of Plover but for the entire county. So they shut down a proposed subdivision development, opting instead for a dream of parkland that would draw people from miles away to Lake Pacawa to come and celebrate – to embrace and enjoy family, culture and the area.
Today, that vision is one step closer to reality.
“The park hasn’t been utilized to its fullest extent,” said Trina Yach of Plover, the Worzellas granddaughter. “Now with the band shell, it will bring families here and children to enjoy it… it’s one step in the overall master plan.”
The Monday, April 30, event at Lake Pacawa Park was as much a formal ceremony as a celebration of the community dedication and generosity to make the band shell project possible. The $561,000 price tag was secured earlier in the year through money and in-kind donations from businesses and individuals throughout Portage County.
“The Village Board and Celebrate Plover Foundation are humbled by the support of the community for this project,” said Village Administrator Dan Mahoney. “This band shell is intended to be used for musical events, movie nights, children’s entertainment and activities, community events, and nonprofit events.
“Most importantly,” Mahoney said, “this band shell is intended to provide fun and entertainment for families and children.”
To put an exclamation to the point, 2-year-old Jonah Yach, along with a bit of help from mom, Trina, and dad, Justin, turned the first shovel of dirt in a groundbreaking ceremony. And then he kept going, enjoying and extending the moment.
Nestled between Hoover Avenue and I-39, Lake Pacawa Park is a 35-acre park that includes two Lions Club shelters, a Pony League ball diamond, two regulation-size soccer fields, swing set, an unsupervised beach area, picnic areas and a shelter house with restrooms.
The village has been having discussions about upgrading the park for about three years. The master plan, which includes the band shell and amphitheater seating, including access and seating for people with disabilities, also consists of walking trails, designated areas for historical and patriotic markers and parking.
The $561,000 will pay for the band shell and foundation, a stage and dance area. The project more specifically includes construction of a 40-foot-by-30-foot Polygon structure, concrete stage; outdoor amphitheater-style seating; handicapped accessibility features, including access ramp and overlook area; 20-foot wide front plaza, electric service, sound system; and sidewalk access.
During the groundbreaking, Mahoney borrowed and tweaked a bit of the town of Plover slogan, which the area that defines the village used before its village incorporation in 1971.
“Because of the generosity of individuals, families and businesses throughout Portage County, this is a day to celebrate a ‘County With Love In Its Heart,’” he said.
The band shell itself will be ready by July 28, the date chosen for Celebrate Plover this summer. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will take place at the celebration. Immediately following the annual event, which draws hundreds from throughout the county, the band shell area will be closed to continue construction and installation of the amphitheater-like seating with handicapped accessible areas and the remainder of the project, including the walkways, paving, landscaping, donor recognition feature and lighting/electrical/sound equipment.
The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of September.
Additional park upgrades that have been discussed and planned conceptually include two additional shelter facilities, three fishing docks and scenic overlooks, reconstructed driving surfaces, new walking paths and improved playing fields.
“It’s a great tribute to my grandparents to have it used to its fullest extent,” Trina Yach said.
At the ceremony, Mahoney recognized construction crew and company members: the design team with Rettler Corp., including Mike Helmrick and Rebecca Ramirez, as well as Muermann Engineering and Grunwalt & Halverson Architects; Altmann Construction, including Tom Altmann and Brad Knoll; Farhner Excavating and Green Thumb; and Ellis Construction, including Erik Carlson and Jason Wilatoski; and Disher Electric and Peak Systems.
Any who wanted were invited to pick up a shovel and be part of the ceremonial first shift of land – actually the second, having followed Jonah’s toss – marking the moment as crews installed footings in the background. It was clear, however, that among the formality and distinction of the ceremony, the real reason for the celebration was much “smaller.”
It came in the form of the toddler, clad in a plaid shirt and blue jeans, grasping the back of his toy dump truck and wheeling it through the sandy soils, stopping briefly only to pluck a rock from the dirt and drop it in the back.
Before Jonah had even turned the first shovel, he was living the dream.