Arrowhead Park is a 30 acre park located at the south end of Little Lake Butte des Morts and just west of downtown Neenah. The asphalt trail and connecting trestles are part of the three (3) community Loop the Little Lake trail system. Arrowhead Park will become one of the major trail heads for this trail while also serving as the connection between nature and downtown Neenah with shops, eateries and world headquarters for several business.
The land now known as Arrowhead Park was once submerged lake bottom and part of the Little Lake Butte des Morts ecosystem. The story of Arrowhead Park begins in 1950 when the Bergstrom Paper Company needed a landfill area to dispose of paper mill sludge and so made a proposal to the city regarding the development of a park in exchange for obtaining the title to submerged lake bottom from the State of Wisconsin and leasing approximately 4 acres to Bergstrom Paper Co. for the development of a treatment facility. In 1951, the state legislature granted the land transfer to the city for public purpose. And so, the process began of creating Arrowhead Park from paper sludge.
In 1973, Park Development Plan #2 was prepared by the Bergstrom Paper Company in coordination with the Neenah Park and Recreation Commission and Neenah Common Council. The landfill was closed in 1976. Glatfelter continued to operate the treatment plant and requested an additional 4 acres of land to develop what became known as the Fox Valley Energy Plan in 1995.
A new Conceptual Master Plan was developed in 2008. This plan consisted of primarily passive and nature-based programming and tried to hide and work around the Fox Valley Energy Plant. Implementation of the plan began in 2012 with the installation of a bike and pedestrian path and the development of Herb and Dolly Smith Park, located just to the west of Arrowhead Park.
In 2013 the Fox Valley Energy Plant shut down, leaving a huge structure to be removed from the proposed park site. The structure and site cleanup was completed in 2016. Removal of the structure and site cleanup led to a new Conceptual Plan in 2017.
2017 CONCEPTUAL MASTER PLAN
The City hired SEH to assist in the development and refinement of the new conceptual master plan. Previous plans were reviewed, additional public surveys and input meetings were held and specific stakeholder groups were interviewed to formulate the new plan. The foundation of the previous plans was incorporated into the new plan which included passive and nature-based programming enhanced through additional buildings to create a unique park and experience adjacent to Little Lake Butte des Morts. The overall master plan has been divided into 3 phases.
Phase 1: Park entrance/drive, parking and connecting bike and pedestrian trail loop, shoreline habitat restoration and an activity center building that will include concessions, equipment rentals, programing space and restroom facilities
Phase 2: East and West, including an outdoor amphitheater, public art, play areas, internal trails, and additional “touch the water” opportunities
The City is working towards 60% design and engineering completion for Phase 1 by the end of 2018. Final design and construction documents will be prepared in 2019 with the bidding process occurring in Winter of 2020 and construction scheduled to begin Spring 2020.
PUBLIC SCULPTURE: PROMISE OF THE RIVER
The Park and Recreation Commission has identified Arrowhead Park as a place where public art and sculpture can be designed into the overall park concept. By blending nature, wind, water and art, a unique cultural experience will be developed.
Neenah placed its first piece of public art in Arrowhead Park in conjunction with the opening of the Loop the Little Lake Trail and continues to strive to encourage the development of public art.
The Commission has given local artist Tom Schultz permission to fundraise for the placement of a public sculpture entitled “The Promise of the River.” A prominent location at the cross roads of bisecting trails has been dedicated for this art piece, and we are excited to incorporate this piece of art into the overall Phase 1 design.