WAUPUN — The City of Waupun voted to fund $100,000 each towards the Hockey Arena floor and Baseball Complex turf with the remaining ARPA funds at the City Council meeting Tuesday night.
The vote comes after the City Council discussed budget priorities for the next fiscal year, and deciding to finally close the remaining balance from the ARPA fund.
The Council Chambers were packed with dozens of locals involved in the local sports, with several leaders coming to give remarks to the Council before they were set to vote.
First up was Tyler Loomans, vice president of the Waupun Hockey Association, the figurehead of the sports funding movement.
“I’d like to start by thanking all the members of the Council for their consideration over the past year,” Loomans said. “It’s been a long process and I know it’s a tall task to juggle all the needs of the City of Waupun. That being said, I’m happy with the direction we’re heading towards supporting youth sports in Waupun.”
Loomans went on to personally thank Mayor Rohn Bishop, City Administrator Kathy Schlieve, Director of Public Works Jeff Daane, and the members of the City Council.
“I know there were differences in opinions but as the project started to develop I believe you all have seen the importance of youth sports in Waupun,” Loomans continued. “Waupun is a great city to live in, I grew up here—born and raised—and I am proud to say that after this vote that our city has our back and is investing into our youth and the future of our city.”
“I believe it will be a great partnership moving forward, I thank you for your time, and for voting yes to saving the rink and to supporting all the youth sports,” Loomans added.
Following Loomans was Travis Schultz who represented the Waupun Little League.
“One thing that really sticks out to me and all of baseball, is that with this investment into Waupun youth sports it goes to show that this City has our backs,” Schultz said after thanking the Council for working with them. “When we bring in parents and families and teams from out of this city all year long they will see foremost that the City of Waupun has our backs in our time of need and I can’t thank you guys enough.”
Alyssa Bishop, one of the board members for Waupun Figure Skating, echoed Loomans’ and Schultz’s sentiments and elaborated on the importance of sports organizations to the local community.
Following the remarks, the City Council voted unanimously to approve $100,000 to the Waupun Hockey Association for replacing the ice rink floor in the Community Center, followed by another unanimous vote for $100,000 towards replacing the turf at the Baseball Complex.
In addition to the funds granted to the Hockey Association and Baseball Complex, the Council voted to set aside the remaining ARPA funds into a grant fund for local sports organizations to apply for assistance in the future.
Some other funds were also set aside for other various local improvements including childhood stabilization grants, capital improvement of recreation assets, and projects related to the new Senior Center/Community Center facility.
With these votes, the Waupun ARPA fund was officially closed.
One major stipulation of the funds granted to Hockey and Baseball was that they cannot expect the City to back every project in the future. The ARPA fund was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and the City would not have the budget normally for such projects so sports organizations must save their own funds for future repairs.
But with assistance from the newly established grant fund, Waupun sports have never been in a better position.
“I am ecstatic about how that went,” Mayor Bishop said following the meeting. “It was a collaborative effort with peaks and valleys, and it took a good year to get here, but we managed to get through. It’s $100,000 to the hockey rink which is huge—we’re going to be the second biggest contributor—and a lot of other people are stepping up to save the rink.”
Last week the Waupun Hockey Association announced they would be receiving “significant contributions” from Homan Auto and Werner-Harmsen, following NEBAT’s contribution of $150,000 to the project late last month.
“This is a huge boost to both hockey and baseball,” Mayor Bishop continued, “so hopefully we take care of hockey for fifty years, baseball for a good thirty, and then we create a fund for different sports to write grants when they need help, and then we can help softball, soccer, whoever else is out there, maybe even REACH Waupun.”
“We’ll see where it goes but I’m excited to be at this point,” he added.
The Waupun Community Center, used as the hockey rink in the winter months, is one of the biggest draws to Waupun tourism and events. Losing the ice would mean the loss of revenue to the city and local business from hockey tournaments and figure skating shows. Baseball getting rid of their turf fields would also have a similar effect.
“I’m very excited for the vote tonight,” Loomans said in a statement following the meeting. “There has been a lot of time and effort put into getting our project to this point and I can’t thank the Council enough for standing behind it in a big way.”
“I’d like to thank Mayor Rohn and Kathy Schlieve for all of their support and guidance throughout this process. We’re very lucky to have them. I’d also like to thank Jaedon and the Waupun Pioneer for all of the exposure he’s helped us gain throughout this,” he added. “It is great to have the support from the City of Waupun towards all of our youth and this is a big statement to their commitment.”
The Waupun Hockey Association has reached about 50% of their fundraiser goal since beginning last year, making them well on their way to completing the project with little or no debt by the time the ice is ready for installation on the new floor in 2025.