Mill Pond Terrace is taking shape

THIS IS A sketch of what the Mill Pond Terrace was envisioned to look like. submitted photo

by Joe Schulz

It took two years, more than 400 donors and the work of 20 contractors, but Mill Pond Terrace’s long-awaited debut is almost here.

Its grand opening is set for Tuesday, July 2 at 7 p.m. and will give patrons a first look at the venue and conjoined beer garden, Town Square Tap.

Another beer tent will be open, offering guests a second option for drinks. Sheboygan Sausages will provide hotdogs and brats during the party.

Music will be performed by the local indie folk duo Dead Horses, coming off of its most recent album, “My Mother the Moon,” which earned a spot in Folk Alley’s “Best Folk/Roots Albums of 2018” list.

Before the party, there will be a private donor recognition event and an unveiling of a donor wall.

Green Lake Renewal Marketing Manager Jorge Gutierrez believes the end of the two-year project will be the beginning of a new chapter for downtown Green Lake.

“It’s kind of a neat, all-encompassing venue that anybody can use,” Gutierrez said.

While the site will be primarily used for Green Lake Renewal programming such as outdoor fitness classes on the patio, it also will be available to private individuals and businesses to rent for events.

The terrace also could cause a migration of sorts for the Farmers Market at Town Square.

“Once people become familiar with the market and Mill Pond Terrace, we won’t need to line the sidewalks to kind of get visual attention,” Green Lake Renewal Executive Director Larry Gundrum said. “If maybe we can align [with] the new sidewalk that leads down into the terrace and then set people up on the terrace, it gives us more of a concentrated atmosphere.”

Gutierrez believes having Town Square Tap connected to the terrace adds another level of interest to the space.

TOWN SQUARE TAP features outdoor seating. Phil Burkart photo

The beer garden will be operated independently from the terrace by FoxTail Ginger Beer founder Zach Frazier, who began brewing his ginger beer in the Town Square Kitchens.

Frazier will sell his ginger beer along with a variety of other local craft beers. The bar will primarily run on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, with the hope of eventually dabbling into Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

“Seeing Mill Pond Terrace take shape, I knew that this was where I wanted to start reaching out my product …,” Frazier said in the 2018 Green Lake Renewal Annual Report. “I think that creating this bar will be a real positive for the community, bringing people together and providing jobs.”

The development of Mill Pond Terrace has roots in the 2015 merger between the Downtown Green Lake Renewal Project and Town Square.

The organizations combined to form Green Lake Renewal, a non-profit working to revitalize the community.

Prior to the merger, Green Lake Renewal worked on downtown beautification projects to make Green Lake more attractive and accessible, while Town Square operated almost like a YMCA, offering things like a fitness center, as well as activities and classes.

Following the merger and subsequent additions to Town Square, the new organization was looking for a development that would benefit the community.

After getting community input, Green Lake Renewal decided to construct Mill Pond Terrace — a venue behind Town Square featuring a paved circular terrace overlooking the mill pond.

“The space in the back …  was an underused parking lot that had a beautiful view of the Mill Pond,” Gutierrez said. “There was potential to turn it into an event space.”

The structure combines Town Square programming with the beautification efforts of Green Lake Renewal to create a striking visual in the heart of Green Lake.

The project was reliant on donations, with the estimated total donations being around $250,000. Last year’s Green Lake Renewal White Hot Party garnered more than 400 donors, who raised $95,000 toward the development.

Gundrum believes Green Lake Renewal’s record of success and transparent messaging are keys to attracting donors.

“A lot of folks are supportive of activities that bring people into Green Lake, so everybody can benefit,” he said.

Gundrum added throughout the development Green Lake Renewal gave continuous updates to its donors.

“[Donors] are informed about what’s going on, and so they know we’re spending their money wisely and accomplishing what we say we’re going to do,” Gundrum said.

The project hasn’t been without obstacles, with poor weather being one of the biggest setbacks. More work was initially intended to get done during fall 2018 before weather shut down operations.

“One of the challenges this year was, with our opening of July 2, how do we make up for that lost time in the fall,” Gundrum said. “We are fortunate that the contractors doing the major work all really prioritized us coming in first, and then coordinating with each other because at times there were four or five different contractors here at the same time all trying to get work done.”

Green Lake Renewal board member Amy Arnetveit in the 2018 annual report noted while both companies were different before the merger, they had similar goals and since merging have worked seamlessly to bring new things like Mill Pond Terrace to the community.

“The biggest thing for me personally, though, is the things that you physically see,” Arnetveit said, referring to the beautification and Mill Pond Terrace. “People want to be in a place that’s visually appealing. If it’s visually appealing it will draw people, so it’s an important part of our economic development.”