Plans are underway to develop a $1 million outdoor venue at The Gathering Place in Milton.
“The Gathering Green” would include a new pavilion, concession stand, restrooms, paved walking trail and 24-stall parking lot.
“We’re looking at this as a mini Rotary Gardens but not with as many floral plantings,” said Diane Pillard, chairwoman of the resource development committee at The Gathering Place.
Weddings are the mainstay of such venues, said Joe Stadelman, president of Angus-Young Associates. He unveiled a four-phase plan Wednesday to a gathering of donors and potential donors.
The Gathering Green would be flexible enough to accommodate many different types of events, Stadelman said.
“It’s unique to the city of Milton and what it will offer,” he said.
Dave Fisher, executive director of The Gathering Place, said Milton has no place for an outdoor wedding that could accommodate 250 people.
The Gathering Green also would be used for The Gathering Place monthly Concerts on the Lawn, scheduled May through August.
In the new space, concerts could be held more often, Fisher said.
“If you build this, they will come,” he said. “What we’re doing now will change dramatically.”
Pillard said other programs that could be held outdoors include meditation, yoga, art classes and summer theater camps for children.
She said development of The Gathering Green started about five years ago. The original plan was more than $2 million and included a conference center. After deciding Milton couldn’t afford that and would need a hotel, she said the plan was shelved for about three years.
“Our board said, ‘We can’t leave that land vacant. It’s got so much potential,’” she said.
The wooded area was cleaned up with the help of Rock County Jail inmates in the Rock County Education and Criminal Addictions Program.
About a half dozen meetings were held with Angus-Young to discuss development possibilities.
Before project team members from The Gathering Place announced the project, they sought financial support.
About $175,000 has been pledged by businesses and individuals, Pillard said.
“Much of that has already been collected,” she said. “We wanted to get to that point before we announced so that we were pretty confident we could make this happen.”
In a year, she’s hoping they can raise $500,000, enough to complete the first two phases of the project.
Because The Gathering Place also has set aside funds and heard interest in in-kind donations, Pillard said they are at least one-quarter of the way there.
Phase 1, estimated at $376,000, includes clearing and grading the site; creating a drainage pond and a system for managing stormwater; bringing in utilities; installing a parking lot, curb, walks and steps; finish grade; and seed.
Phase 2, estimated at $324,000, includes building a pavilion, landscaping and concrete pavers.
Phase 3, estimated at $192,000, would be construction of a concession/toilet building, landscaping, utilities extensions and concession equipment.
Phase 4, estimated at $89,000, includes installation of butterfly mesh panels, gazebo relocation, benches, pergola, entry elements and crushed red granite.
Design expenses are factored into each phase.
The Gathering Green is designed to complement The Gathering Place. For instance, masonry construction will match the appearance of the 1992 building.
Words Stadelman used to describe the new space include “more formal,” “traditional in detailing and styling” and “a park green atmosphere.”
“We tried to keep it as simple and as flexible as we could for whatever production might occur there,” he said. “In terms of size, the goal is to keep it intimate for small events, especially kids’ events, so they’re not lost in a big stage.”
“The possibilities are pretty much endless,” Fisher said. “Just think what it would do for Milton.”