Heather Ringberg and Sonya Withrow organized the first meeting of a group of Platteville area community members in support of the PARC Project, a growing plan for a Platteville Activity and Resource Center.
“We’ve talked about this project for years, but it was always just a dream. Now, we are finally going to do something about it and make it happen,” Ringberg said.
The meeting was an opportunity for interested community members to learn about and become an active part of the PARC Project. Ringberg shared that she and Withrow were looking to define the next steps that needed to be taken and figure out who could contribute where.
“There’s a lot of momentum and good things beginning to happen with other groups in Platteville right now. We don’t want to use these other groups’ momentum but, rather, springboard alongside them into this endeavor,” Ringberg said.
Ringberg wants to take an “abundant community” approach on this project, using the philosophy that the community can take care of itself if members take care of each other. She believes that just within the Platteville community people have the skills necessary to make this project a success.
“First and foremost we want to make the center a tangible thing,” Ringberg said.
Ringberg and Withrow discussed the circular problem that Platteville faces when it comes to progress. The big question for Platteville is what to bring into the community first: Jobs? People? Activities? Withrow believes that the answer is actually pretty simple; they all have to come together.
Ringberg and Withrow discussed a possible partnership with the Platteville Parks and Recreation Department. Withrow specified that Parks and Recreation is not directly responsible for the project. Their main job is to provide service to the community, so their partnership would serve to help the community build the center.
One of the largest obstacles that the project faces is finding a space for the new center. Members suggested the hospital as a potential partner, mentioning that there is open land out by the Southwest Health Hospital. This led to a discussion on the pros and cons of this area; it would be more available to other communities, but it might be hard for Platteville’s citizens to access it.
Members brainstormed other ideas for the center’s location including: the old armory, the K-Mart lot, the old roller-skating rink, Swiss Valley, the Farm and Fleet lot and the lot in front of the Super 8 Hotel.
The discussion moved to focus on what Platteville area community members would want from this community center. Among these ideas included an open gym, a children’s museum, a sports complex, a daycare facility, studio rooms and a resource center. Members also specified that they would like the center to be open for all ages and be generally affordable.
As members took turns sharing their dreams for this center, they all seemed to agree that they wanted somewhere indoors for their children and grandchildren to play, socialize and create. Another common theme among the members was creating more space for youth sports to practice and play. They unanimously agreed that they would like the center to have a swimming pool.
The swimming pool idea generated a lot of excitement among the project members. Ringberg and Withrow introduced that a community center swimming pool could mean a swim team for the high school as well as for the college. Plus, a tournament pool could help bring in revenue for the center and help with sustainability.
Ringberg and Withrow agreed that they would like to grow a larger partnership between the University of Wisconsin-Platteville and the community.
“A lot of the work that needs to be done could provide incredible opportunities for UW students. We could provide internships to elementary education students, engineers, construction students etc…and the center could be a recruitment tool for both the hospital and the university,” Ringberg said.
Withrow shared that there are a lot of monetary options for the construction of this community center, including grants through the Department of Tourism for bringing tournaments to the area. She also raised the idea of a community-owned center, in hopes that this approach would lower the cost of membership passes.
Group members ended the meeting with a “homework assignment.” Ringberg and Withrow suggested that they “shop around” and look at other community centers in towns that are similar to Platteville. Before the next meeting, Ringberg and Withrow want to gather some information on how other communities built their centers, what worked and what didn’t.