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Voyageur Park project could get second life with donation

By Lee Reinsch

DE PERE – An anonymous donor has expressed interest in donating up to $500,000 toward the construction of a $1 million multi-use facility at Voyageur Park, the De Pere park board learned at its March 18 meeting.

Previously, the city asked architects to rework and downsize the original design of $1 million down to a $600,000 version.

The original estimate was higher than expected, and funding from the excess stadium tax fund the parks department counted on was redirected to the Mulva Cultural Center.

“It’s not an approved amount, but an anonymous donor expressing interest,” said Marty Kosobucki, director of Parks, Recreation, and Forestry for De Pere.

Kosobucki didn’t say whether the donor was an individual or an entity.

Some stipulations are the city has to pursue the project, and it should be the original plan, not the scaled-down version.

The parks department has about $170,000 it can use for the project.

The rest, about $330,000, would need to be fundraised.

The parks department hopes the city will contribute more to the project.

Commissioner Dean Raasch said while the high price tag of the original design made him nervous, he could see advantages of it.

“There would be less burden on the city, because (with the lower-priced, scaled down version) the donor would walk away,” leaving them to come up with all but $170,000, he said.

The board voted to recommend the city pursue the original design.

“I think it’s important for the city to go forward with the project,” Kosobucki said. “This is the project you all thought would add the most to quality of life in De Pere.”

The matter goes next to the Common Council, which meets Wednesday, April 7.

Voyageur to get early Christmas gift

Another donor came forward with an offer to help fund another Voyageur project: a Christmas light display.

Fox Communities Credit Union is putting up a large upfront donation to get the project off the ground this year and committed to giving smaller donations yearly for four years.

“This is something we’ve talked about doing for five or six years, but we never had the resources until we stumbled upon Fox Communities Credit Union,” Kosobucki said.

He said he and his wife enjoy driving around looking at holiday light displays and see lots of others doing the same.

“Over time, this could be built into something really special,” Kosobucki said.

All it would require of the city would be the labor for setting it up.

The first year, it would be held over three weekends from 5-9 p.m.

Lights also wouldn’t be turned on outside of the three weekends.

“We don’t want to consume five weeks and have it turn out that no one comes,” he said.

He said the department also doesn’t want to annoy the residents of the condominiums overlooking Voyageur Park with holiday lights.

“It could be a really nice hometown project that ‘is what it is’ or it could have the potential to grow into something really large,” Kosobucki said.

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