Special to the EagleHerald
This conceptual art, provided by Somerville Architects & Engineers, UP Engineers & Architects and the City of Marinette, approximates the front side of the proposed recreation center facing Pierce Avenue. Concept designs for the recreation center can be found on the City of Marinette website, www.marinette.wi.us.
Special to the EagleHerald
This conceptual art, provided by Somerville Architects & Engineers, UP Engineers & Architects and the City of Marinette, approximates the front side of the proposed recreation center facing Pierce Avenue. Concept designs for the recreation center can be found on the City of Marinette website, www.marinette.wi.us.
MARINETTE — Of all the high-profile construction projects happening in Marinette these days, perhaps none are as highly anticipated or community-backed as the new recreation center, set to be built next to Marinette High School on Pierce Avenue.

Slated to cost about $12 million, the project has been in the making for around “eight to 10 years” according to Mayor Steve Genisot, who met with the EagleHerald and members of the local fundraising team who have latched onto the task of raising the funds for the construction.

“It’s a huge project,” he said. “It certainly is going to take huge involvement.”

Involvement has been something the planning and fundraising team kept in mind when it came to drawing up plans for the proposed center. Ward 4 Alderman Brian Walters, Director of Business & Finance for the Marinette School District, recalled long meetings with local citizens in order to determine what designs would work best for the many recreation groups and teams in the area, such as local volleyball, tennis, soccer, basketball groups and many others.

“One of the big things we talked about was having expanded use to incorporate many different interests,” he said.

The designs were also influenced by the building’s potential use for school activities as well, particularly those which are affected by changes in the weather and are currently relegated to specific seasons for this reason.

“There isn’t the ability to maintain competitiveness with other communities because you don’t have the access to the facilities to do them unless you want to travel down to Green Bay or Appleton,” Walters said. “We want to be able to keep people within our community and have enough things for people to do here so they don’t have to take those options.”

“We got them all involved, as far as what they would like to see,” said fundraising team member Jeff Zeratsky. “It’s going to be big enough to put just about everybody’s interest in there.”

The final design yielded a 130,000 square foot facility to support activities for every age group, including soccer, baseball, softball, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, volleyball, curling and even an indoor track. The building is split into three large spaces, a gym section, turf gym and ice hockey rink, all connected by a long front hallway. The large space is expected to attract and host concerts and trade shows, as well as smaller gatherings in meeting rooms adjacent to the main hall.

Preliminary designs for the center were presented in a special City Council meeting on Feb. 15, where a local group of businessmen, including Attorney Steve Wolfe of Coggins & Wolfe and Vice President and Business Banking Officer Tim J. Stauss of Stephenson National Bank & Trust, both members of the fundraising team, pledged to raise half of the required $12 million if the city could fund the other half.

Marinette’s City Council approved an initial resolution March 1 authorizing general obligation promissory notes in the amount of $6 million for the construction and upcoming street improvement projects. The council chose to go through with borrowing the money because the city currently is in a good position without a lot of debt.

The fundraising team set about soliciting funds from private donors for the other $6 million, and along with monetary donations the group received plenty of positive feedback for the project.

“I come from the hockey background, so I know they’re ecstatic about getting a hockey dome without the fear of falling down during a game,” said Mary Kay Boyce of Bay Cities Insurance Group. “It’s been very positive.”

Executive Director Paula Gruszynski with the M&M Area Community Foundation joined the fundraising team soon after, and the foundation set up two funds for the recreation center: One for initial start-up costs and one for maintenance costs for the years following the construction.

“The vision these folks had about what the area needs, and I mean the area, all of Marinette and Menominee counties, is something that we need our leaders and our activists and our teachers and our everyday people to be part of,” Gruszynski said. “That’s what really appealed to our board, and to me personally.”

To date, the private fundraising has gathered about two-thirds of the amount needed, or $4 million. The group hopes to find the remaining $2 million soon, so the project can be transferred from paper plans to reality.

“We’re looking for the support of the entire community,” Genisot said. “Any and all donations can help make this dream a reality.”

Other members of the fundraising team for the recreation center besides those mentioned above are Kent Kostelecky, Marinette Recreation Department Director, and Scott Wahl, engineering manager for Tyco Fire Products. The team will be holding a fundraiser at Cozzy’s Polaris, 1740 US 41, on Sept. 10 and will be keeping the public updated on fundraising progress through regular advertisements in the EagleHerald.

Concept designs for the new recreation center can be viewed on the City of Marinette website, www.marinette.wi.us. Donations for the center are tax-deductible and can be directed to the M&M Area Community Foundation at 906-864-3599: A donation button is also available online at the City of Marinette website. Those wishing to make a donation in annual installments can contact Paula Gruszynski, the M&M Area Community Foundation Executive Director, at 906-864-3599. Questions about the scope of the Community Sports and Event Center should be directed to Mayor Steve Genisot at 715-732-5120.