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New rec center gathering support

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MARINETTE — Of all the high-profile construction projects happening in Marinette these days, perhaps none are as highly anticipated or community-backed as the new recreation center, set to be built next to Marinette High School on Pierce Avenue.

Slated to cost about $12 million, the project has been in the making for around “eight to 10 years” according to Mayor Steve Genisot, who met with the EagleHerald and members of the local fundraising team who have latched onto the task of raising the funds for the construction.

“It’s a huge project,” he said. “It certainly is going to take huge involvement.”

Involvement has been something the planning and fundraising team kept in mind when it came to drawing up plans for the proposed center. Ward 4 Alderman Brian Walters, Director of Business & Finance for the Marinette School District, recalled long meetings with local citizens in order to determine what designs would work best for the many recreation groups and teams in the area, such as local volleyball, tennis, soccer, basketball groups and many others.

“One of the big things we talked about was having expanded use to incorporate many different interests,” he said.

The designs were also influenced by the building’s potential use for school activities as well, particularly those which are affected by changes in the weather and are currently relegated to specific seasons for this reason.

“There isn’t the ability to maintain competitiveness with other communities because you don’t have the access to the facilities to do them unless you want to travel down to Green Bay or Appleton,” Walters said. “We want to be able to keep people within our community and have enough things for people to do here so they don’t have to take those options.”

“We got them all involved, as far as what they would like to see,” said fundraising team member Jeff Zeratsky. “It’s going to be big enough to put just about everybody’s interest in there.”

The final design yielded a 130,000 square foot facility to support activities for every age group, including soccer, baseball, softball, ice hockey, basketball, tennis, volleyball, curling and even an indoor track. The building is split into three large spaces, a gym section, turf gym and ice hockey rink, all connected by a long front hallway. The large space is expected to attract and host concerts and trade shows, as well as smaller gatherings in meeting rooms adjacent to the main hall.

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