Stayer Park pavilion approved

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The open air park shelter/performance pavilion that will be a centerpiece of a renovated riverfront area downtown won Plan Commission approval Thursday.

The city recently received a $110,000 anonymous donation toward the shelter/pavilion, City Administrator Brian Yerges told the commissioners.

“This is part of the Stayer Park project we have planned for 2017,” Yerges said. “I think this will be a nice project, but we wouldn’t be doing it if it wasn’t for this generous gift to the city.”

Yerges said the donation should cover roughly 90 percent of the cost of the shelter/pavilion, with the city picking up the rest of the cost.

The 1,500-square foot structure will be open air in order to comply with floodplain requirements, Yerges explained. It will have a gabled gray steel roof.

“It will also include lighting and an electrical system big enough so that if a band plays there, they can plug in,” Yerges said.

The shelter/pavilion is being ordered as a kit from a manufacturer in Michigan and will be assembled on site. Yerges said city public works employees should be able to do most of the work assembling the structure.

The plans for the area between the Mullet River and Mill Street from Stafford Street to the Eastern Avenue Mullet River bridge grew out of the Mullet River Corridor Study prepared by MSA Associates for the a city study committee in 2015.

The city has begun work on parts of that plan to create a unified park/community space in that area, with the help of private groups and donations.

Last year, Ralph Stayer and Johnsonville Sausage helped kick off the park project by announcing a $300,000 challenge grant to get fundraising off the ground.

The Plymouth Lions Club is spearheading a fundraising effort for an upgraded playground area as part of the project. The park would be a recognition of the club’s more than 40 years of service to the city and area.

The Lions recently donated $100,000 to the city for the ADA-inclusive playground, which they are working city officials to design and build.

Earlier this winter, the city paid for the demolition of the ramp leading from the park area to the upper level of the municipal parking structure at the east end of Mill Street.

That work was intended to create more space for park and other developments along the river, as well as reconfigured parking and reducing traffic congestion.

Other parts of the plan for the area include new public restrooms, new pavement for parking and drive areas, burying electrical lines, new park lighting, and trail and sidewalk improvements.

The commission directed Building Inspector Pete Scheuerman and Fire Chief Denis Fellows to work on developing a certificate of occupancy system for commercial properties in the city.

That would require inspection by both city officials of any new commercial operation in the city to ensure that all city and state codes are being met.

Scheuerman said the issue arose during discussions he had with Fellows. “Through fire inspections we discovered businesses we didn’t know existed in parts of buildings,” he noted.

“We’re not limiting the number of pizza places or beauty parlors in the city, we just want to assure the use they want fits in with the structure,” Scheuerman added.

He pointed out one instance where plans were being made to add equipment to a former lunch counter space that would have violated state and city code and would have posed a fire hazard.

“It is unusual for a community of our size not to have an occupancy permit requirement,” Yerges noted.

The commission approved plans for expanding the clubhouse at Briarwood Village and adding a small utility shed across the drive from the clubhouse.

John Mark of Midwest Rents told the commission the expansion of the clubhouse at the Pleasantview Road complex came at the request of residents.

“The community has grown to 100 units and the original clubhouse is very small,” Mark said. “The residents have requested that we add on to the clubhouse, room where they meet, watch Packer games, have dinners and such.”

He said the 500-square foot addition would match the existing building.

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