By Jared Schmeltzer
Early Friday morning marked the beginning of a new project in Normal Park. The park will be getting a new building that includes bathrooms and concessions, which will be used for concerts and other events hosted at the park.
Merrill Parks and Recreation Director Dan Wendorf says, “The benefits of this building are tremendous. It is going to help the park grow and just this building alone will bring more use to the park.”
The new structure is being constructed by J&J Lee Construction and is set to be completed by the end of July. The project will cost $156,000 but after a $20,000 donation by the city band, and another $20,000 coming from salvage timber sales from the tornado that struck Merrill back in 2011; only $116,000 will be from city funding.
The Merrill City Band kicked off a fundraiser last year with a goal of $560,000 to benefit both the band’s equipment needs and improvements at Normal Park. Since the gazebo was donated by Lydia Bauman in 2011, as a permanent home for the city band, Merrill City Band Director Linda Becker noted that the band has made a commitment to Normal Park.
“We only use the park seven times a year, but this is our way of giving back to the community for everyone to use,” Becker said. “The community has been so supportive of us for 106 years that we thought this would be our way of giving back.”
The fundraiser has met the band’s equipment needs, Becker said. Additional funds raised through the City Band’s campaign would go toward landscaping and lighting in the park, she added.
As for the old warming house located at the park, Wendorf explained that they are going to look at re-purposing the building in another location if possible.