City and Marshfield Utilities Collaborate as Pool Project, Utility Building Move Forward

(C) Steven Okonek, TriMedia

Two Major Projects Work Together in Marshfield

On August 22, the City of Marshfield Common Council voted on the location of the new Hefko Pool. Now that City staff and Marshfield Utilities officially know that the pool is staying where it is, decisions can be made as to the future of the two neighboring facilities.

Long overdue for a new facility, Marshfield Utilities is eager to continue the decades-long process of determining the plans for their building and future workspaces. The City of Marshfield is equally pleased to begin the next steps for the Hefko Pool project, which will involve fundraising.

“I’m happy that there is a direction, that we finally have a decision,” said Justin Casperson, Parks and Recreation Director for the City of Marshfield. “We know where the pool will be, which helps with fundraising and planning.”

The project has an estimated cost of $6.5 million, with the City contributing $3 million and donations covering the remaining cost.

Desperately in need of replacement, Hefko Pool was originally built in the 1930’s and saw its most recent update in the 1970’s.

“The pool has been the number one requested item of me since coming here in 2015,” said Casperson. “It probably is the number one discussed park amenity for the City. People really want to know when we’re getting a new one.”

Though the pool is old and past the point of restoration and significant repairs, Casperson said it has served the community well and that the new pool will continue to be an important resource.

“A pool in our community, in our location, is almost critical,” he said. “We don’t have a lot of neighboring communities with a pool- the closest comparable pool is in Wausau, which is an hour away.”

He added that despite Wisconsin’s short summers, a pool is important to Marshfield because of the city’s absence of lakes and rivers.

“We have no natural water resources in the city. For recreation in the summer, when it pertains to water, Hefko is our only option,” he said. “Our summers are so short and small that people just want to get outside and enjoy the weather and enjoy the water.”

Both Marshfield Utilities and the City of Marshfield are working collaboratively to ensure the best possible outcomes for both projects, both for their respective entities and for ratepayers and taxpayers.

“We have no problem being on the same property,” said Bob Trussoni, General Manager at Marshfield Utilities. “It’s really not a big issue.”

“It’s important to collaborate because we are limited in size and scope of that site,” said Casperson. “We can’t really go anywhere. We’re landlocked. The most cost effective way of looking at it is to share some resources to save taxpayers and ratepayers down the road.”

Much of the collaboration will consist of underground work during construction, but there is also opportunity after construction is completed to share resources, such as parking.

Though talks of a new Marshfield Utilities building have been in the works for thirty years and plans were drawn again for a new space as recently as three years ago, Marshfield Utilities has delayed the project in anticipation of the City’s pool decision. For example, if the City had decided to move the pool to a new location, Marshfield Utilities would have been able to expand to the north.

With federal and state requirements resulting in more office positions, Marshfield Utilities has had to accommodate a growing workforce in an already outdated building. Seventeen years ago, the Water Department was moved to office space on Oak Avenue, which also quickly filled up.

“As we’ve grown as a Utility, we’ve gradually run out of room,” said Trussoni. “We’re at the point where we have to do something.”

Having had plenty of time to explore options, Marshfield Utilities has exhausted all ideas and options, and feels confident as they move forward with the next planning process. With plenty of research completed and now with the official outcome of the pool known, they are eager to properly prepare for their future.

For staff, the next step is to request permission from the Utility Commission to work with their chosen architect on a new design. This design will probably involve a multi-story building to optimize use of the land available.

Citizens and some government officials have expressed concern for the future of the trees on the property, something that Trussoni assures is being taken into account by both entities as they plan their new facilities. In fact, the construction projects present an opportunity to properly remove many dying trees on the property and replace them with healthy new trees.

“Many of the trees here are dying,” he said, pointing to one outside of his office window. “There will be new trees, better trees, planted.”

Trussoni also ensures citizens that the new Marshfield Utilities building will not be an industrial-looking eyesore, but rather a facility that improves that area of the City.

“It’ll be a beautiful building,” he said. “Even the garage building will be brick. It’s not going to be a ‘tin shed’ type of thing.”

Additionally, the design for Hefko Pool will also improve the appearance of that site. With only a conceptual design at this point and with some features contingent on fundraising, Casperson encourages anyone interested in assisting with fundraising or with design ideas to contact his office.

“We’re going to take some of the same basic concepts that are on that plan and then work with Marshfield Utilities and the two architect engineering firms,” he said. “Features can be cut/added depending on cost.”

Both architects (Birschbach, and Associates for Marshfield Utilities and Ayers for Hefko Pool) are not only dedicated to creating attractive facilities, they are also sharing designs and maps, and working together throughout the process. By collaborating, the City and Utilities will be able to share resources during the construction process, reducing costs for all involved.

With the City hoping to break ground on the new Hefko Pool as early as 2019 (contingent on fundraising), Marshfield Utilities will be basing their timeline on the progress of the pool. Funds for the new Marshfield Utilities building will come from rates and investments, with the expectation that efficiencies will be gained after construction.

They also plan to stage the project in multiple stages to make it more palatable, and are considering elements such as solar energy to increase cost savings once built. Though the current building has been maintained, it’s likely that bulldozing the current structure and starting over will be more cost effective.

“It’s all still subject to discussion and Commission approval,” said Cathy Lotzer, Technical Services Manager at Marshfield Utilities, adding that beginning sooner rather than later is ideal. “It has been discussed for 20-30 years and it’s not going to get any cheaper to build,” she said. “We’ve really been investigating every option.”

With a new pool and a new utility building improving the south side of Marshfield, Trussoni hopes these developments can inspire more renewal in that part of the city.

Those with questions for Marshfield Utilities can contact Trussoni or Lotzer at 715-387-1195. For input or questions on the new Hefko Pool, contact Marshfield Parks & Recreation at 715-384-4642.

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