Shelter takes shape in Dallas

 A spacious new building for picnics and concessions is in the process of being built at the village park in Dallas, where work has begun on improvements that have been in the works for several years. Photo by Bob Zientara

Years of planning and preparation by a group of Dallas area residents is now paying off as construction work has started on a new picnic shelter and concession stand at the Dallas Village Park.

Local resident Karla Knutson, a member of the planning group, said the job should be finished by Saturday, Aug. 10.

“There is a car show planned for that day in the park, which will also be a grand opening,” Knutson said in a recent email message.

Warmer weather has enabled the work to pick up its pace. On May 31, The Chipper Handyman, LLC, of Prairie Farm, owned by Chipper LaBlanc, had a crew of four in the park to work on the new building.

The project had been in the works for much of the past five years. In December 2015, project organizers received a $7,500 challenge grant from proceeds earned during the July 2013 Wisconsin Farm Technology Days, held at Dallas.

The volunteers held a variety of fundraisers over the next three years. At one point, they applied for federal funds to build a combination park structure and tornado shelter, but the plan came to a dead end because the park is on a flood plain, and federal rules prohibit construction of tornado shelters on flood plains.

Planners next turned their attention to state funding sources. In April 2018, it was announced that Dallas would receive a $53,500 Knowles Nelson Stewardship grant from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Combined with the roughly $65,000 already raised, the grant jump-started active planning for construction. It marked the second time Dallas had applied for the grant.

The village tried to do so in 2017, but the grant wasn’t approved. However, the local group was invited to re-apply, and was successful the second time around.

The original $100,000 project included the following improvements:

• Construct a concession stand on the south side of the park. The finished facility will also include bathrooms, a kitchen and a serving area attached to the outdoor seating area.

• Pour concrete to make the stand accessible to the disabled. The larger paved area will also include new sidewalks from the parking lot to the new building.

• Install a new fishing dock on the (Upper Pine Creek) flowage next to the park. It will be built later this summer directly west of the new park building.

Besides the general contractor, the park planners are also working with several subcontractors, including Matt Sprauge, plumbing, Mike Broten, electrical and John Morneau, concrete.