Supporting the vision

Historic park foundation kicks off fundraising efforts

—Submitted photo Pictured above is an artist’s rendering of what Wilson Brewer Historic Park could potentially look like in the future after renovations are made to the grounds. The Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee has been working for the last 18 months to develop a vision to preserve the historic park. The WBHPC will be sending out fundraising requests and brochures about the renovations needed for buildings on the grounds before the end of the year.

“The community is at a crossroads because we must determine, all of us residents, what value to our present and future should be placed on our past,” said Wilson Brewer Historic Park Committee Chairman Gary Groves.

Groves is one of many committee members hoping to revitalize Wilson Brewer Park through rehabilitation and renovation in the next few years. The committee has been working on plans to update the park for the last 18 months. Along with the committee, lead committees and volunteers have been hard at work creating a vision for the future of the park. With a projected vision, the committee is turning their efforts toward fundraising to make their vision a reality.

“The vision will dictate a usage for the park,” Groves said. “The public usage of the park will in turn dictate its value.”

After obtaining council approval to move forward in the process to rehabilitate the park, the committee is putting a greater emphasis on fundraising. The committee hopes that the community will see the value of giving back to the park as improvements are made.

“We’re at the point where we realize that the park is in need of major renovation,” Groves said. “The cost totals over a million dollars. To pay that cost is going to require a community effort to raise funds.”

With the end of the year approaching, Groves is encouraging community members to consider giving back to the park through the Enhance Hamilton County Foundation. Donations are tax-deductible. Donors can also specify which building or project they would like their contribution to go to.

“The Enhance Hamilton County Foundation’s role in this project is like what we do for other organizations and causes throughout Hamilton County,” said Enhance Hamilton County Foundation Development Director Darcy Swon. “Our role is really to serve as a liaison between charitable donors and the causes they care about.”

The Wilson Brewer Park Foundation has three funds set up through the EHCF. As the EHCF is a non profit, donations are tax deductible. The endowment fund was set up for long-term sustainability of the park. According to Swon, individuals who donate to this particular fund will receive in addition to their federal deduction, a 25 percent Endow Iowa Tax Credit. The second fund set up for the project is the General Fund. The third fund set up through EHCF for the park is for the Mulberry Center Church.

“Folks really have options in how they can give monies,” Swon said.

Along with cash donations, individuals can give other assets through the foundation including stock transfers, IRA rollovers, gifts of grain, farmland, and other assets.

“Most people think it has to be cash, but it doesn’t,” said Swon. “The nice thing about our organization is we provide resources for the charitable donor and for this organization.”

Those who are unable to give this year can pledge to give to the park project in the coming years.

“We want to be able to make it easy for people to support the causes they care about,” said Swon.

“We’re asking people to make this project a reality,” Groves said. “Not only for ourselves, but for our future – our children and grandchildren. We can do that by bringing new life to this historic park.”

Gifts can be made payable to the EHCF for the Wilson Brewer Park Foundation. Donations can be sent to Swon at 501 bank St. Suite 1, Webster City, IA, 50595 or by calling (515) 835-0437. For more information about how to donate, contact Swon at (515) 835-0437.

“That history, at least our committee believes and we hope others believe, requires our preservation,” said Groves.

“What we’ve attempted to do is to provide a vision for our historic park. That is primarily what a lot of the volunteer effort has been going into for the past 18 months, an attempt to find that vision,” Groves said.

A brochure wil be distributed before the end of the year to residents, according to Groves. The brochure features improvements that the committee hopes to make as well as an artist’s rendering of what the park could become after improvements. Letters will also be sent out to potential donors who have shown interest in giving to the park, whether by pledge or donation.

“We are sending the letters and brochures out before the end of the year to give people the option, if they choose, to make their gift this year,” said Groves. “Gifts can be designated to a particular building on the grounds, the grounds themselves, or the endowment fund which is intended to maintain perpetual care of the park.”

Groves provided the City Council with information about the state of Wilson Brewer Park and the plans the committee has for future improvements and fundraising plans at the council’s Dec. 4 meeting. As the WBHPC makes their recommendations, any work on the park, which is city property, must be approved by the council.

According to Groves, the WBHPC hopes to complete renovations to the park in a specific order based on need. The cabins are the committee’s number one priority. The estimated cost to complete the first phase is $130,000. According to Webster City Recreation and Public Grounds Director Kent Harfst, an estimated three-fourths of the funds needed to complete this portion of the project has been raised.

“The city has been extremely supportive of this project. In the current budget, there is $40,000 of city money that will be used for the log cabins,” Harfst said. “In addition to that, the Hotel Motel Tax Grant Committee has been extremely supportive and right now we currently have $25,000 from a grant we received from them for the log cabins as well.”

Once work on the cabins has been completed, the next project the committee hopes to undertake is the Harmony School. The cost to rehab the school is estimated at $20,000. Representatives with Boone Valley Housing have made their intentions clear that they want to contribute to the upkeep of the school.

The third project will be work on Mulberry Center Church. The church will require an estimated $5,000 more for other needs.

The fourth project on the park’s grounds will focus on the grounds themselves. Proposed plans include a walking path, more parking and handicap-accessible restrooms. The estimated cost for this portion of the project is $260,000.

“Just yesterday there was a $25,000 donation for the grounds,” Harst said.

The courthouse is slated to be the fifth project completed at Wilson Brewer Park. According to Groves, the cost to restore the courthouse is an estimated $75,000. $15,000 of this has been pledged for by local community organizations.

The sixth and final project the committee hopes to complete is the depot. Groves estimates this portion of the project to cost around $500,000.

“We’ve been very pleased in the interest shown by people coming to us saying they’d like to contribute,” said Groves.