The City of Wausau Comprehensive Park and Recreation Area Plan was adopted by the Wausau Common Council in December, 1990 and represented an update of the Comprehensive Plan for the Wausau Park System which was prepared in July, 1976. The updated outdoor recreation plan was prepared as one element of the City’s ongoing master planning program. The purpose of the plan is to help City officials guide future park and recreation area land acquisition, development, and maintenance activities by identifying the general location, character, and extent of existing and needed parks, playgrounds, and special recreation areas throughout the City of Wausau. To achieve this purpose, the plan focused on the adequacy of existing facilities when compared to various qualitative and quantitative methods of assessing recreation area and facility needs. This plan was the first comprehensive update of the City’s park plan in over 14 years. Following adoption by the Common Council and approval of the plan by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, the City of Wausau also became qualified for various recreation and natural resources grant-in-aid programs from the state and federal governments.
The plan focuses on physical planning and development issues. These physical planning issues are explored in two broad categories — those with a primary impact on a neighborhood basis and those which are city-wide in scope. Neighborhood planning was considered appropriate since most of the City’s park facilities have been developed to focus on small neighborhood service areas. In addition, previous City planning efforts for parks and land use planning focused on neighborhoods, and the primary need for more park land is at the neighborhood level. City-wide issues such as riverfront development, community parks, sport complexes, utilization of the Holtz-Krause Landfill, and natural resources management were given special attention in the report. The plan was prepared by staff of the City Planning Office under the direction of the Mayor’s Office and the City Park Reorganization Committee.
For each of the nine existing neighborhoods in the City, the plan inventories existing facilities and conditions in the neighborhood and provides recommendations for either improving existing parks within the particular neighborhood or establishing new park and recreation areas in the neighborhood. The plan also contained an Action Plan which listed 12 of the top priority park and recreation area improvements as well as changes to the administrative structure of the Park Department. Of the 12 initial recommendations contained in the Action Plan, all but three have been implemented. The Action Plan recommendations include:
- Acquire the 3.5-acre area identified on the Official City Map as an expansion site for Pleasant View Park.
- The parcel of land located between the VFW Clubhouse and Island Place Apartments on River Drive should be acquired by the City for park purposes. The first step in this process should be placement of the park site on the Official City Map.
- Identify and establish a new planning and policy body for overseeing the City park and recreation lands. Following creation of this body, this plan should be reviewed and modified as appropriate.
- The City should acquire and develop the additional property needed for the riverside walkway.
- Master plans for all City parks should be prepared before additional capital improvements are made in these parks. These plans are especially important for Swiderski and Bonnie Doon Parks since additional land will be needed in the future and the boundaries should be identified now.
- Formal park names should be developed for the Tasche and Taschler properties.
- City officials and the Wausau School Board should begin discussions on development of school/park use and maintenance agreements.
- The Park Department should continue efforts to make existing and future park and recreation facilities handicapped accessible.
- The needs and opportunities for recreational bicycling in the City should be further reviewed.
- A study should be completed on the feasibility of developing swimming beaches along the shores of the Wisconsin River or Lake Wausau.
- Redevelop the outdoor theater/performance area at Stewart Park.
- Continue to investigate development of a skateboard park.