The town of Merrill’s plans for a business park are starting to pay off.
The park on County Rd. K already has its first tenant, a Waupaca-based propane gas distributor that found the location well suited for their business and moved in last fall.
The town is seeking additional tenants to located on the 62-acre site.
The business park plans developed from the need for the growing township to replace the small and aging original town hall. The old town hall was on a relatively small parcel of land that didn’t lend itself to expansion.
“It didn’t make sense to expand on the old site,” said Harry Tubbin, a member of the town’s Long Range Planning Committee.
When the 62 acre of land across the road from the old town hall came up for sale, the town saw an opportunity to not only meet its own needs but to facilitate development in the township as well.
The initial focus was on constructing the new town hall and community center. That has been accomplished, along with the recent addition of a new town garage.
The township has developed the space it needs and the rest is available for businesses that would like to locate there.
The town has developed a road, Progress Avenue, to access the property. The property hasn’t been divided into lots of any particular size; prospective tenants can decide how much land they need. The cost to locate in the park depends on the amount of land required.
The town is marketing the industrial park for usage such as trucking companies, distributors and light industry. Progress Avenue was designed to handle heavier trucks and the long term plan for the park includes additional roads.
“We tried to lay it out for a broad range of industry to come in,” said town supervisor Mike Matushak.
The new community center features a large open hall with an adjoining kitchen that is available to be rented for events. With a seating capacity of 299, the new hall has proven popular for wedding receptions and other activities.
“From now till fall, it’s being utilized just about every weekend,” said town supervisor Scott Voigt.
The town didn’t build the hall with the intention of competing with other banquet facilities in town, Voigt noted. “We just wanted to provide a place for people to meet,” he said.
“We’re not in it to make money,” added town supervisor Stacy Pettit, who handles hall reservations. “Our goal is to provide usage for town residents and the community. Usage continues to grow, with several months of the year fully booked on weekends for events. More community events are coming here.”
The new community center was narrowly missed by the April 10, 2011 tornado. The old town garage wasn’t so lucky.
“We had talked about a new garage,” Matushak said. “The tornado made that a quick decision.”
The new 64×60 foot garage was constructed last summer. It was designed to hold any equipment the town may need in the foreseeable future.