A dedication of the new Barrie Park restroom facility Monday night will kick-off a summer of musical and theatrical performances in Fort Atkinson’s own central park.
The Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce 2011-12 Project LEAD class, in conjunction with contributions from the Fort Atkinson Rotary Club, Fort Atkinson Community Foundation and other donors, spearheaded construction of the restroom facility on the north side of the park bandshell.
Prior to the inaugural 2013 performance of the Fort Atkinson Community Band at around 7:20 p.m., organizers formally will open the facility.
Following dedication of the restroom facilities, the Fort Atkinson Community Band will kick off its 53rd season of summer outdoor concerts at 7:30 p.m. The musical selections will include a few references to the restroom facility.
An ice cream social, sponsored by Fort Atkinson-Nicaragua Partners, will begin about 6:30 p.m. and continue through the program.
Fort Atkinson Park and Recreation Director Scott Lastusky said installation of the restroom totally has changed the idea of what can go on in that park. It was the restroom facilities that, in part, prompted creation of the Fort Atkinson Summer Charity Concert Series.
Organized by 2003 Fort Atkinson High School graduate Megan Findlay, the three Wednesday evening concerts will have local musicians entertaining guests waiving performance fees in lieu of a donation to Big Brothers Big Sisters of Rock, Walworth and Jefferson Counties.
Performances are slated for Wednesday, June 26, with Venice Gashouse Trolley and The Jokes; July 24, Jack Selmer and the Katie Scullin Band; and Aug. 21, Jill & The Jax, and The Merry Horde.
Concerts will be held from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Participants are encouraged to bring their own beverages and snack.
Rounding out the summer season, the Fort Atkinson Community Theater is slated to perform two shows of the popular play, “Our Town,” on Friday and Saturday, Aug. 2 and 3. Rain dates are Friday and Saturday, Aug. 9 and 10.
“You see the things being added and you’re looking at more folks coming to the park,” Lastusky said, pointing out that the city viewed a public restroom as a benefit to those using the Glacial River recreation trail as well.
While the Fort Atkinson Municipal Building is open on weekdays, having a restroom at the park offers such facilities all the time.
The Parks and Recreation director anticipates use of the park will increase dramatically.
“I think people are realizing that Barrie Park is the closest thing to our Fort Atkinson central park,” Lastusky said. “This is where those type of small town events take place. I think this is a wonderful addition to keep those kinds of things going.”
The parks director views installation of the restroom facility as the third of three projects that have come together in the redevelopment of Barrie Park.
He said it started with the Rotary Club reclaiming and restoring the 1903 fountain that originally was installed in Jones Park. The fountain was moved to Lorman-Bicentennial Park years later, but because of some water source problems, it was removed and then stored by the city in 2003.
In 2008, the Rotary Club dedicated the restored fountain in memory of the late Allan S. Haukom.
“That was the start of let’s make this park a little more attractive, a little more unique,” Lastusky said.
The following year, the 2009-10 Project Lead class was responsible for the initial renovation and refurbishment of the park and bandshell.
The original bandshell at Barrie Park was installed in 1927. It was torn down in 1971 and replaced with a new structure in 1972.
However, that new bandshell, similar in design to the current structure, did not last throughout the winter, collapsing onto the foundation. It was rebuilt and has been in place since 1974.
Fundraising was done by Project LEAD to complete $20,000 worth of improvements including repainting the bandshell, refacing the concrete block area with flagstone, providing a patio of engraved pavers, and placing mulch and plantings around the bandshell.
Additional upgrades including laying recycled rubber mulch and a new fence for the playground area. The city added tables in the corners of the park and then the 2011-12 Project LEAD class came forward with the concept of the restroom facility.
“It may not be the coolest thing to be fundraising for, but they (Project LEAD class) understood the reality of what would really complete the park is restrooms,” Lastusky said. “That’s a part that’s not easy for a group wanting to make a splash in the community. A lot of times that (restroom facility) finishes a park the way it needs to be done.”
He pointed out that the class acknowledged that fundraising would not be completed over night.
The Project LEAD 2011-12 class said it would organize the Trot for the Pot 5K event to raise money for construction of a restroom building at Barrie Park.
“I think their successful fundraising in their running event made a huge difference,” Lastusky said.
From that point the Rotary Club, Project LEAD and the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation came together to partner with moving forward to get the project completed.
“They all put their minds together with planning, and I think we have a really nice park now,” Lastusky said. “After three major projects — which on its own the city didn’t budget any money for — and here you end up having three groups in three different years, and now you have a really special community park.”
He admitted that without Rotary, the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce and the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, these projects would not have happened.
“Here, you put them all together and now you have a very special park in a very visible part of Fort Atkinson,” Lastusky said.
He anticipates more events will start to be scheduled at the park over the next few years.
As for the facility itself, the restroom building measures 23 feet by 16 feet.
“There is no other one just like it in a city park in Fort Atkinson,” the parks director said.
Other such facilities in Fort Atkinson city parks usually serve multiple functions such as a garage or storage shed.
However, in this case, the goal was to leave the smallest footprint possible in the already small park.
“It’s not a huge park and it’s around a residential area,” Lastusky stated. “We were trying to get a building that would be small and blend into the surrounding area.”
The restroom building is in a shaded area and no trees had to be removed from the park for the construction.
“Part of how we have to do these projects is it has to be done easy enough to maintain,” the parks director said. “We’re not having changes in our maintenance staff, so we need to take on new duties without a lot of additional work to get it done.”
Every contractor involved in the project gave some money back from what their original bid was, Lastusky noted.
He especially cited Ben Roehl and Roehl Builders.
“He and his staff volunteered their entire time doing the framing of the building,” the parks director said. “Our hat goes off to all those involved and the way they gave back.”
Recognized on the plaque that will be displayed on the building will be the Fort Atkinson Community Foundation, Project LEAD 24, Rotary Club of Fort Atkinson, the City of Fort Atkinson, the Fort Atkinson Area Chamber of Commerce Tourism Department and contractors including Baker Glass, Bos Design Builders, Craig’s Crete, Design Alliance, Hachtel Plumbing, Midwest Masonry, ProBuild, Ben Roehl and Roehl Builders and Reidl & Sons,
Details such as plastic partitions, block building, drains in the floor are designed so things can be washed easily by parks staff.
For energy efficiency, Lastusky said the restrooms will have LED lighting.
“We did put some electric on the outside,” he said. “The idea would be for the future ice cream social organizers or other groups that use that area — they will have the ability to plug in small appliances to enhance concessions.”
Meanwhile, additional funds raised from the previous 2010 Barrie Park Project LEAD effort were intended to go toward a sound system.
Lastusky said the small mechanical hallway between the two bathrooms will house the electronics for an eventual public address system. Conduit already has been routed to the bandshell to allow for installation of a set-up for microphones.
Plans are to get that sound system installed in July.
For a full schedule of events, contact the Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation Department at (920) 563-7781 or visit www.fortparksandrec.com.
More information on the Fort Atkinson Community Band is available at www.fortatkinsoncommunityband.org.
To make a donation to the Fort Atkinson Summer Charity Concert Series, persons can write a check payable to “City of Fort-Charity Concerts” and mail it to 30 N. Water St., Fort Atkinson, WI, 53538 or drop it off at the Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation Department between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
For more information, contact Megan Findlay at FAcharityconcerts@gmail.com or call the Fort Atkinson Parks and Recreation office at (920) 563-7781.