Roundhouse in Spooner

SPOONER– Plans for the Railroad Park and turning the Roundhouse into a community center are progressing.

Alderperson and Railroad Park Committee liaison Terri Reiter gave an update of the Railroad Park during the March 5 Spooner City Council meeting. Reiter, who also serves as chairperson of the Railroad Park Committee as well as Friends Of Railroad Park (FORRP), a non-profit entity which raises and handles the funding for the park, informed that the Spooner-Trego Lions have pledged $5,000 for construction of a pavilion with a roof and concrete floor. She said that that FORRP has two years to raise the rest of the money for the pledge to remain live.

Reiter said that FORRP also has been named a half-beneficiary of this year’s annual Spooner Area Chamber of Commerce Food and Wine Tasting Benefit which will be held on Thursday, April 25, at the Spooner Civic Center.

Reiter also informed that Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) architectural design students will be designing architectural plans for the (interior) remodeling of the Spooner Roundhouse into a community center. She said that students will be at the roundhouse on April 9 taking dimensions and that the designs from the three groups (two per group) of fourth-semester students will be revealed on May 2 at 10 a.m. at WITC.

In a later interview Reiter further explained that the student designs are free to the city and that students look for community projects such as this to design plans for since it is a requirement for their degree. She said that the project was accepted in October and that the potential students were interviewed earlier this winter and were then given ideas on what the committee envisions for the new community center.  

Reiter said that the building obviously will need windows and doors, and then a large interior space possibly with several floors is desired along with a kitchenette to allow food to be catered in. She said that few permanent walls are planned and that the large interior space will be divided mostly with portable partitions to accommodate a wide range of uses.

She said a small museum is also in the plan, and with a possibility of leaving a set of tracks inside and after getting the turntable working, parking a real train car or engine inside is being imagined.   

Reiter said that the committee anticipates the center to host a variety of events such as banquets, weddings, and dances or even provide spaces where an audience can observe artists creating projects. She said that there has already been an interest shown by some artists who have been asking when the center would be available. An indoor farmer’s market is also another possibility.

Reiter said that the city of Spooner already paid to fix the roof and remediate the surrounding soil back into good health and therefore will not be paying any more toward the project. It is now up to FORRP to raise and receive the funds, and Reiter indicated that the project will progress toward completion as funding permits although within0 two years is hoped for.

As for now, Reiter said that Mike Macone from The Potter’s Shed is designing benches for the park and will give a presentation to the committee at 3:30 p.m. on March 26. As for this summer, Reiter expects the park to have tables and benches and handicap accessible portable restrooms from June through September.

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