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WBP leadership confirms position on 28E

October 19, 2022

The Wilson Brewer Park Commission on Tuesday confirmed its support for the proposed 28E agreement between Hamilton County and Webster City first discussed at its July 19 2022 meeting.

The Wilson Brewer Park Commission on Tuesday confirmed its support for the proposed 28E agreement between Hamilton County and Webster City first discussed at its July 19 2022 meeting.

Two members — Ketta Lubberstedt-Arjes, and Lindsay McCormick-Welch — were unable to attend.

Commission Chairman Gary Groves, who worked with the county on the agreement, noted, “It was only a starting point; a final agreement can only come from city council and county commissioners working out the details together.”

The Wilson Brewer Park Commission is an advisory board whose role is to make recommendations to the City Council of Webster City on matters concerning the park.

The decision on whether to accept the county’s interest in creating a new Board of Trustees to manage the park is up to the Council, which has agreed to consider it at its next meeting, on Nov. 7.

In exchange for an acre of land, preferential, future rights to buy more land, and a building, the new board would include elected members from both Webster City and Hamilton County.

Separately, the Dean Bowden family hopes to donate $1 million to establish an endowment that could be used to cover some of the expense of operating the park in future.

In the meantime, the Wilson Brewer Park Commission on Tuesday heard the status of completed and planned improvements at Wilson Brewer Park.

Wayne Schlotfeldt, of Schlotfeldt Engineering, reviewed a list of ongoing improvements in varying stages of design, bidding and completion at the park. Listed by building, they are:

First Hamilton County Courthouse

At the top of the list is restoration of the first Hamilton County Courthouse, in planning for the last two years.

Schlotfeldt noted, “A bid received in late November 2022 could lead to a contract released in December, with work beginning in early spring.” He said the expected cost of the courthouse restoration remained at $180,000, but “could go higher.” One of the costs not included in this figure is Schlotfeldt’s fee for design of the project. He couldn’t recall what that figure might be, but promised to come back to the commission with an estimate.

Illinois Central Depot

A new heating, ventilating and air conditioning package (HVAC) has been installed by city employees in the basement of the depot and, according to Schlotfeldt, “serves the main floor, with a residual effect in the basement.”

A proposal later in the meeting to move historical artifacts from their present storage site in a shed near the wastewater treatment plant to the depot basement brought up the question whether more HVAC equipment is necessary to ensure safe-keeping of objects stored in the basement.

Concrete outside, on the west side of the depot, continues to leak, allowing water to seep into the basement, site of a major mold contamination last summer.

“We learned a valuable, expensive lesson in the depot basement,” Schlotfeldt reminded the commission. He further advised that “sump pumps should be installed in the basement, regardless of what other steps might be taken,” toward better climate control.

A major, future project is replacement of the depot’s historic platform, which completely surrounded the building. Schlotfeldt has been studying appropriate materials for this, and suggested a durable plastic might be the most practical for durability and maintenance economy.

Mulberry Center Church

A steady number of improvements have been made at Mulberry Center Church in recent years, but more remain to be completed, including a deck and new doors at the main entrance, an improved side entrance, upgrades to windows, and decorative pavers outdoors.

A modern HVAC system makes Mulberry Center Church the only building currently suitable for year-round programming at Wilson Brewer Park. This summer has seen the return of the popular historic program presentations.

Harmony School

While receiving a new sidewalk to its front door, Harmony School is still due for a concrete retaining wall, and additional, side steps at its main entrance. The school now has electrical service, but not climate control.

Park grounds and other projects

Schlotfeldt noted that, as a walking trail now crosses the historic gravel road into the park, the possibility of automobile-pedestrian conflicts is a serious concern. A gate and removable bollards near Ohio Street, where the road enters the park, is planned, “and now has greater urgency in the name of safety,” according to Schlotfeldt.

Smaller projects remain on the active list, including returning the historic sandstone sign to the Brewer-Groves cabin, site of Frank Bonebright’s original museum of pioneer artifacts. Similarly, a stone marker must be returned to its position over the site of a buried time capsule. Schlotfeldt says it would likely be mounted on a small concrete pad.

This year handsome new picnic tables have been installed in the park. Future plans call for them to be permanently attached to concrete pads in several groupings around the park’s large, green center.

All this costs money, noted Groves, “and we have to start thinking about raising some funds to support it all.”

Groves went on to underscore the importance of an endowment for the park.

“Anyone donating money to our many projects here in the park has the right to expect their gift will be properly maintained into the future.”

Donations are always needed and welcomed at the park and can be sent to the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation. Donors are invited to specify how and where they wish their gift used in the park.

Also during the meeting, Richard Carlson spoke about recent work at the park by the Webster City Town and Country Garden Club.

Club members took it upon themselves to clean up the flower beds in front of the Bonebright Memorial sign at the park’s northeast corner. They also trimmed spirea on each side of the bed, and planted tulips, daffodils and daylilies for spring and summer color next year. The club, which has “about 30, pretty active members,” according to Carlson, has city beautification as its ongoing mission.

Groves thanked them for their volunteer work, calling them “a talented group.”


View this article as it originally appeared in the Daily Freeman-Journal.

Last modified: October 19, 2022

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