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Legion Park Event Center starts to take shape
Legion Park Event Center
Groundbreaking for the Legion Park Event Center, which will replace the Art Hall building, is scheduled to take place during Platteville Dairy Days.

Four months before ground is scheduled to be broken for the Legion Park Art Hall building replacement, the Legion Park Event Center is starting to take shape.

The City of Platteville Plan Commission Monday night recommended approval of the design and location of the LPEC, which is being built by the Legion Park Event Center Committee, and will be donated to the city upon completion next year,

The LPEC will replace a building that is used three-fourths of summer weekends, plus the Platteville Regional Chamber Hometown Festival Week Southwest Health Berry Fest and Platteville Dairy Days, but lacks running water and bathrooms. Art Hall is also in poor structural condition.

The new building is about 6,000 square feet — more than twice the size of the current 2,500-square-foot Art Hall — and includes an outdoor canopy area. It will have both heating and air conditioning, and overhead doors on the west and east ends of the building.

The year-round building will also replace the ice rink warming house, which is the only building with bathrooms on the west end of Legion Park. The bathrooms would be accessible daily during hours the park is open.

City parks and recreation director Luke Peters, who is on the LPEC committee, said the committee has reached its initial $600,000 fundraising goal, but “as we listen to more and more people, there’s more and more interest in adding things to the building.”

Peters said the committee is short about $200,000 of its total “wish list, but some of that is options. ... I wasn’t expecting to be where we are now, and it’s a better and better building than we would have expected.”

Delta 3 Engineering of Platteville is designing the building, and Eastman Cartwright of Platteville is its general contractor.

Peters said the new building’s capacity depends on whether or not the state requires a sprinkler system to be installed. Building codes limit capacity of new non-sprinklered buildings to 300, but that capacity could be exceeded with a sprinkler system.

Peters said parking would be reconfigured by eliminating parking now closest to the west side of Art Hall, although a parking lot could be installed on the west side of Legion Park at a future date.

A groundbreaking ceremony is planned during Dairy Days in early September. Dairy Days will use the building as a replacement for the large tent that hosts stage events and concessions. Peters said the Dairy Days Committee plans a contribution to the city for “enhancements” of the building.

Peters said the city expects to “recoup a good portion of our [maintenance] costs back through rentals.”

The original LPEC plan was to break ground this spring if the committee reached its $600,000 fundraising goal. That, however, would have resulted in Art Hall’s unavailability for events this summer. The wet fall and winter were also blamed for postponing construction to this fall.

The current Art Hall is the second building on the site. The original Art Hall was built around 1900 and was destroyed in a fire in 1936. The current Art Hall was built afterward, and then purchased by the city from the Platteville Fair Association in 1959.

Major donations so far include $30,000 from the Dairy Days Committee; $25,000 from Wisconsin Bank & Trust, Mound City Bank, Dupaco Community Credit Union, Clare Bank, and the Woodward Foundation; $10,000 from Community First Bank, Heartland Credit Union and Digman Construction; 1,500 bushels of corn valued at about $6,000 from Myron and Kay Tranel; and $5,000 from Novus Glass in Platteville. The city pledged a $50,000 challenge grant, and two anonymous donors pledged a total of $110,000.

To donate, send checks to Inspiring Community, Inc., P.O. Box 503, Platteville, Wi 53818 and note “Event Center” on memo line.