Town Square Fundraising

Visit the Watertown Area Community Foundation 
to make your donation to the Town Square Fund.
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A top view of the future Rock River Dock & Plaza.

$250,000 Anonymous Gift Leaps Town Square Fundraising Forward

The Town Square fundraising team for the Watertown Redevelopment Authority (RDA) received a private donation of $250,000 to secure naming rights for the Rock River Dock and Plaza. The details of the donation will be released at a later date. This donation brings total private funds raised to build the Town Square to $562,000, or 35% of the targeted fundraising campaign goal.

“We are truly thankful for this generous gift from a donor who has strong ties to Watertown,” said David Zimmermann, co-chair of the Town Square Fundraising Committee. “Giving back to the City and the people of Watertown was at the heart of this gift,” he continued, “We are delighted that the donation will fund one of the plazas … a place for family and friends to gather, enjoy events, or just immerse themselves in the beauty of this oasis in the middle of downtown Watertown.” 

“Fundraising efforts are picking up steam,” added Rob Marchant, Chair of the RDA. “We are still working to finalize several larger donations and are receiving a lot of inquiries from local businesses. We are making progress toward our community-wide fundraising goal of $1.6 million before we solicit bids from construction contractors,” he added, “And yes…there is still room for your donation!”

Designed with a number of flexible spaces, the Town Square will play host to concerts, community gatherings, and festivals. “We are on course that by this time next year, the Square will hopefully be hosting end-of-summer events and be chock-full of people,” continued Zimmermann. “This is very exciting!”

Businesses and community members interested in making a donation can contact Alex Allon at (920) 567-8181, AAllon@CityofWatertown.org. In addition to cash contributions, stock or qualified charitable IRA distributions can be designated towards the Town Square. Checks made payable to Watertown Area Community Foundation can be sent to WACF, PO Box 351, Watertown, WI 53094. Put Town Square on memo line to direct your gift to the Town Square. The Watertown Area Community Foundation is a 501(c)3 charity which provides full tax deductions under US tax laws.

 
 
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Alex Allon, executive director of the Watertown RDA discusses plans with Dave Zimmerman, co-chair Town Square Fundraising Committee (left) and Bank First representatives Tom Pasch, vice president business banking and Joshua Patterson, vice president branch manager (right of Allon).

Bank First Donates Benches

Town Square visitors will soon be thanking Bank First for its donation of $12,000 earmarked for the purchase of park benches at the future Town Square. Permanently placed on the Community Plaza, these brightly colored benches are an invitation to visitors of all ages to come, sit, relax, and rest for a while. 

 

“We are thrilled to sponsor the benches,” said Tom Pasch, Vice President Business Banking, Bank First. “We’re all looking forward to the day when we can take a break, walk across the street, and relax on a bench under the trees.” 

 

Earlier in the year, Bank First sponsored the Town Square’s first public art exhibit created by Watertown High School students, the Watertown Arts Council, and members of the community. Under the direction of WHS Art Teachers Jana Strobel and Dave Pawl, the exhibit showcases painted fence boards surrounding the construction site. This open-air exhibit is continually growing which invites visitors to return often to see what’s new. 

 

“Thank you Tom and Bank First for your continued support of the Town Square project,” said Alex Allon, Executive Director - Watertown Redevelopment Authority. “Bank First is a great partner and we look forward to collaborating with you on programming once the Square is open,” he added.

 

To date, over $2 million has been raised for the Town Square. “Everything is coming together,” continued Allon. “The mixed used development project adjacent to the Square is now underway, we’ve received four major gift commitments, the Bank First bench donation is finalized, and we’re waiting on a number of grant applications and a few more donor responses. This is exciting!” Once financing is secured, the RDA will be seeking proposals to build the Square with hopes of breaking ground and doing some work on the riverbank over the winter.

 
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From Left: Alex Allon, Strategic Initiatives and Development Coordinator - City of Watertown; Andi Merfeld, Community Engagement and Grants Coordinator - GWCHF; Mayor Emily McFarland - City of Watertown and Margaret Hanrahan, Board member & Grants Committee Chair - GWCHF.

GWCHF Pledges $300,000 to Campaign

The Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation (GWCHF) has pledged $300,000 to the Watertown Town Square to construct the children’s interactive water feature. The pledge furthers the Foundation’s goal of enhancing early childhood health outcomes. This is the first major donation the project has received since the Watertown Redevelopment Authority (RDA) formed a designated fundraising team. This support from the Health Foundation kick-starts fundraising efforts with the goal of reaching $1.6 million. The total cost of the Town Square project is estimated at $3.6 million. The City of Watertown and the RDA have pledged $1 million each. “With the Greater Watertown Community Health Foundation’s generous support, the Town Square is nearly two-thirds funded,” reported Alex Allon, the Executive Director of the RDA.

 

“On behalf of the Foundation, I am honored to be presenting this gift,” said Tina Crave, President and CEO. “We envision the Town Square as a community space that supports the Foundation’s mission of improving community.”

A goal of GWCHF, which recently funded the building of a 6,000 square foot TalkReadPlay Center at the Watertown Public Library, focuses on strengthening families by promoting quality, positive interactions between parents and caregivers and their young children. “We’re looking forward to seeing children and their families actively play during the hot summer months,” said Crave. “The Town Square offers numerous opportunities for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of downtown and the Rock River,” Mayor Emily McFarland echoed.

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Mayor Emily McFarland - City of Watertown holding one of the 300 million lawn mower blades made by Fisher Barton with Fisher Barton representatives: Jim Scott, Chief Operations Officer; Lee Hermann, General Manager; and Scott Hoffman, Chief Executive Officer; and City of Watertown - Strategic Initiatives and Development Coordinator Alex Allon.

Fisher Barton Commemorates Milestone

 

To commemorate production of its 300 millionth lawn mower blade and recognize founder Richard L Wilkey, Fisher Barton earmarked $2,550 for the purchase of a park bench for the future Town Square. As the world’s largest manufacturer of lawn mower blades, Fisher Barton also produces wear components and agricultural knives in their 210,000 – sq.ft. facilities located in Watertown.

“Fisher Barton’s gift is a representation of their commitment to the community of Watertown,” said Alex Allon, Executive Director of the Watertown Redevelopment Authority. Allon and Mayor Emily McFarland met with Fisher Barton leadership and employees, receiving a tour of their facility and learning about the company’s history in Watertown dating back to 1906. 

“A number of community partners have stepped up to support Town Square construction, and this is the first we’ve received for furnishings,” Allon continued. “The square is designed with a number of flexible spaces and seating areas, inviting visitors to relax and enjoy the space.” In addition to bench sponsorships, the Town Square Fundraising Committee is seeking smaller donations for tables and other amenities. 

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About the Town Square

Mission:

Provide a sense of place for building community. 

Vision:

Create a world-class, open-air gathering space for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy.

Overview:

The Town Square is a one-acre, multi-purpose gathering place located in Watertown’s historic district along the Rock River. It is located in the civic heart of the City. It has been designed with a number of flexible spaces where the entire community feels welcome to gather for arts, culture, commerce, and play.

  • Library Plaza

  • Community Plaza

  • Performance Plaza

  • Rock River Dock

Developed by the RDA, the Square will transition to the City of Watertown and be maintained by the Park, Recreation and Forestry Department. It will be actively managed and programmed year round, creating social and educational opportunities that foster diverse and dynamic community engagement. The goal is to serve as a catalyst for economic activity by increasing pedestrian traffic and attracting the attention of 9,200+ vehicles that pass by each day.

Budget:

Town Square: $2.25-$2.75 Million

- Site Prep: $50-100,000

- Hardscapes & Furnishings: $1.25-1.5 Million

- Landscape: $100-125,000

- Utilities & Electrical: $350-450,000

- Riverfront: $500-600,000

Water Street: $750-850,000

TOTAL: $3-3.6 Million

Funding Opportunities:

  • Park Naming Rights – $1 Million

  • Library Plaza - $500,000

  • Community Plaza - $250,000

  • Performance Plaza - $250,000

  • Rock River Dock - $250,000

Community Engagement

The community is invited to support the Town Square in its ongoing maintenance, operations, and future programming. For volunteer opportunities, endowment donations, and other ways to get involved please email Alex Allon at aallon@cityofwatertown.org.

MAKE YOUR DONATION

To sponsor a "Funding Opportunity" please contact aallon@cityofwatertown.org

Mail your donation to:

Check payable to Watertown Area Community Foundation / CHECK MEMO: Town Square 

   Watertown Area Community Foundation  |  P.O. Box 351  |  Watertown, WI 53094

Stock or Qualified Charitable IRA distribution donations:

  Oswald-Konz Financial Group - (920) 390-4555

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Library Plaza

PURPOSE:

The Library Plaza is a key component of the town square. 

Central Entry Point

  • Sets the tone and feel of what’s to come. This functional entrance serves as a landing point for guests to establish their arrival, organize their plan, and embark on an adventure. 

Library’s Front Porch/Patio

  • A tree-lined gathering place for Library sponsored outdoor play, learning activities, and community programs.

Community Table

  • The centerpiece table with seating for 12-16 guests. Used for conversation, activities, and meals. 

Flexible Space

  • When closed to traffic, the curb-less street is transformed into a pedestrian mall and gathering place. Guests of all abilities can easily move from this space to the Community Plaza without physical barriers.  

  • A pedestrian-oriented public space that can be quickly turned into a foodwalk zone for off-street access to food trucks and vendors. 

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Community Plaza

PURPOSE:

The Community Plaza serves as the main year-round gathering place. . 

A Casual Gathering Place

  • Multiple “rooms” offer a variety of seating options. Picnic tables on the paved plaza, tiered seating encircling the main plaza, and natural stone blocks nestled under trees entice visitors of all ages to linger and enjoy.

Festive Gathering Place

  • Multi-purpose area ideal for showcasing vendors, exhibit booths, food trucks, and pop-up farmers’ markets.

  • Overlooking the performance stage, this area can accommodate audiences of 200 or more.

Plaza Shelter

  • Open-air, part shade structure offers an escape from the sun while creating space for picnics, gatherings, and socially-distanced meetings.

Interactive Water Feature

  • A lighted water feature offering a fun and engaging place for children to find relief from the heat. Interactive water jets “dance” in an ever-changing rhythm of spraying water.

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Performance Plaza

PURPOSE:

The Performance Plaza provides a public, outdoor entertainment stage and lush green spaces that attract guests to come, stay, and enjoy. 

Performance Stage

  • Open air, elevated platform accommodates a solo musician up to
    a multiple-piece band.

  • Removable awning offers shade and defines performance space.

Performance Lawn

  • Accommodates audiences of 250 people or more.

  • An expansive green space providing plenty of room for lawn games, kids to run and play, outdoor workouts, picnics, and peaceful relaxation.

  • Skirted by a naturalized backdrop to complement the bridge wall. 

  • Balcony overlook providing passersby a sneak peak at performances. Also, a perfect perch for people watching. 

  • Gradual sloped walkways wrapping around the grassy bowl. The 5% grade offers easy movement from street to river’s edge.

  • The Main Street staircase, a secondary entrance inviting pedestrians into the town square activity spaces.

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Rock River Dock & Riverfront

PURPOSE:

The Rock River Dock & Riverfront provide a safe dock and gangway for river paddlers and offer an opportunity for people to enjoy scenic views of the Rock River from anywhere in the town square.

River’s Edge

  • Improved sea wall and water management system to help protect
    and preserve the Rock River.

  • Restored and planted edges rimmed with seating blocks oriented towards views of the Rock River. 

  • Wide paved walkways bordered by railings for public safety.

Floating Dock

  • ADA compliant gangway and floating launch/dock provide safe, easy, and stable access for kayaks, paddle-boarders, and canoes. 

  • Opportunity to dock a boat, engage in town square festivities, shop at downtown merchants, and eat at local restaurants.

Rock River Fishing

  • A designated area for fishing from the River Walkway.