A $4.56 million dollar capital campaign to improve recreation at Powers Bluff has been reworked as a 4-phase project at a cost of $4,066,000.
The first phase of the project would see the creation of an entrance road and parking lot ($345,000); multi-use shelter trailhead building ($560,000); 3-acre fishing pond ($25,000); ice-skating rink ($5,000); playground, benches, tables and grills ($70,000). The entrance road will extend to the revised trailhead location with full completion later in phase 3.
In order to preserve the cultural and environmental areas at Powers Bluff, development will take place on the 223 acres of property north of the park, acquired in a land trade six years ago.
Half of the cost for phase 1 would be covered by a DNR grant and the other from a mixture of private donations and county funds. If the Wood County Parks and Forestry Department’s application for the grant next May is successful, said Director Chad Schooley, this phase will likely commence in late 2019 or early 2020.
Designs for a $3.1 million, 13,000 square foot multi-use shelter were scaled back and divided to include a smaller trailhead building. Originally the shelter would have served as the trailhead, but the location of the trailhead has since moved. The smaller trailhead shelter would have indoor/outdoor restrooms and a meeting room that could also be used as a classroom setting for environmental education.
A large multi-use shelter is still in the works and will cap the project in Phase 4 at a cost of $2,105,000 with winter rentals, warming house, 300-person event hall, and kitchen area. The planned meeting room/environmental education wing was diverted into the purposes of the smaller trailhead shelter. The multi-use shelter design was further scaled back to form one level instead of two, and a smaller atrium.
Phase 2 of the project includes snowmaking and lighting equipment for the tubing and ski hill and extension of electrical power at a cost of $625,000. The equipment would allow for tubing and skiing during the dark winter evenings and remedy reliance on snowfall, meaning a longer recreational season.
Phase 3 of the project will extend the entrance road from the trailhead shelter to the base of the hill and move old storage and maintenance structures from the top of the hill to the bottom at a cost of $331,000. The existing stone shelter would remain in place and still be usable. Phase 4 will follow with the construction of the $2.1 million multi-use shelter building and parking lot.
While not identified in the phases, the park is currently undergoing planning for the creation of a 7-mile single track mountain bike trail, which will be constructed by county staff and volunteers. Mountain biking is one of the fastest-growing sports in the nation with the nearest trails at Marshfield School Forest and the acclaimed Levis Mound in Neillsville.
The parks department has worked with the International Mountain Bicycling Association to create a conceptual plan for a trail system that will appeal to beginning, intermediate and advance bikers but will also be open to hiking, running, skiing, and snowshoeing.
This year, 2.5 miles of multi-use trail additional trails were completed by making use of old logging trails, and will be open this winter for cross country skiing. For the first time, trail users will have access to a small trailhead parking lot on Highway N that can be used anytime for skiing. The daily ski pass is $5 (ages 8+), $15 for an annual pass, or $40 for a family pass. This is payable at the fee drop box.
No major donor has yet been identified for the project, but community support however small remains key to making it a reality. A printable donation form plus options for online giving can be found on the park website at this link.
Additionally, fundraising opportunities will be held throughout the year with details posted to the Powers Bluff Facebook page. This weekend, discover handmade crafts at the Bluff Boutique at Nepco Lake Shelter in Wisconsin Rapids on November 10 from 10-4. Proceeds from the event supports efforts to install snowmaking equipment and lighting at Powers Bluff.