Adopt-A-Park program may be coming to Ripon, pending Common Council approval

The city of Ripon and Fortifi Bank have entered into a private-public partnership to beautify Murray Park and improve the city’s chances of being awarded a $240,000 stewardship grant from the DNR for the Senior Center and Trailhead project.

The city of Ripon and Fortifi Bank have entered into a private-public partnership to beautify Murray Park and improve the city’s chances of being awarded a $240,000 stewardship grant from the DNR for the Senior Center and Trailhead project.

City Administrator Adam Sonntag described the agreement as a trial run for a new “Adopt-A-Park” initiative that the Park and Recreation Committee approved last week Wednesday.

The larger Adopt-A-Park program still needs to be approved by the Common Council, but it aims to allow businesses and community groups to help fund park improvements.

He said the agreement between Fortifi Bank and the city would last for three years only if the stewardship grant from the DNR gets approved.

“If this project goes through, they will help with annual maintenance of the trail, planting flowers and trees, assembling and cleaning park fixtures, picnic tables, trash receptacles and painting facilities as needed,” Sonntag said during the meeting.

Sonntag noted having a private-public partnership would help the city earn additional points in its grant application and that the agreement with Fortifi Bank doesn’t need to be approved by the Common Council.

Additionally, he told the committee that the city is working on an intergovernmental agreement with Fond du Lac County to extend the Mascoutin Trail into Murray Park, which should give the city another point on its grant application.

“Getting more points is a big thing; trust me,” Ald. Howard Hansen said at the meeting. “With as close as we were last year, two points is going to be huge.”

In terms of the larger Adopt-A-Park program, Sonntag said he worked with Public Works Director Mike Ehrenberg to develop a way for other entities to contribute to park improvements.

“If the council chooses to adopt it, then we will have the guidelines for allowing businesses and other groups to help us along with some of these maintenance issues on top of if they want to donate for a play structure or donate for a flower bed,” he said.

The program would be open to individuals, neighborhood associations, civic groups, religious organizations, service groups and school groups, all of which would have to meet with city staff to discuss their responsibilities if they participate, according to a draft document for the program.

The Adopt-A-Park group would agree to a specific time span for its project. Available parks would be selected on a first-come, first-served basis, and the amount of work would be determined by the scope of each project, according to the document.

Under the agreement, the city would be responsible for approving the projects, disposing of garbage collected by volunteers, providing supplies and safety equipment for projects, overseeing projects and giving participants recognition for their work.

Volunteers would be responsible for supervising volunteers on projects, scheduling workdays and receiving approval from the Public Works Department, identifying the objectives of projects in writing, funding projects and several other tasks, according to the draft document.

“There’s probably a lot of businesses that would step up and jump on right away, but haven’t really known how to get involved,” Park and Recreation committee member David Soda said.

Sonntag added that the city is slowly in the process of upgrading its parks, but noted that it takes time.

“It opens it up for businesses to say, ‘We are passionate about this specific park or this specific project and we will adopt it, we’ll clean it, we’ll fix it up, we’ll paint it and work with Mike to set those guidelines,’” he said. “If somebody comes to us and says, ‘I want to adopt a park and put in something in,’ we can work with them to put in a piece of equipment and move forward.”

Written By

Joe Schulz served as the reporter of the Green Laker in 2019 and 2020, before being hired as a reporter for the Commonwealth in October 2020. He is from Oshkosh and graduated from UW-Oshkosh in December with a bachelor's degree in journalism.

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