Over the years, Tony Mistlin has given generously to the City of Ripon.
On Tuesday, the local businessman and philanthropist donated $600,000 to go towards the construction of concession stands for Mistlin Sports Complex’s softball fields. But that’s with the caveat of the city forking out $400,000 to build the restrooms, using Parks and Recreation money coupled with other funding options.
Mistlin threatened to pull his latest donation after hearing concerns from the Ripon City Council.
Vice Mayor Chuck Winn, for example, had trouble using developer fees and Councilman Leo Zuber was hoping to get more information on the softball field project.
“Since the Parks and Recreation fund does not have the $400,000 (for the restrooms), the second option is developer fees,” said Winn, who noted that the city currently collects $13,000 per household from new development. “The problem is the number of houses that will be built, and to reach $400,000 will take a lot of houses.”
He did suggest borrowing from those accounts with a surplus and repaying them over a period of time much like Jack Tone Golf Course and other projects.
Winn favors the park and its potential to provide revenue for the city.
Zuber wasn’t thrilled with the existing change orders taking place at the Mistlin Sports Complex and believes that paying for construction of the restrooms could present much of the same.
“Bathrooms and kitchens are two of the most expensive things you can build and change orders can be expensive,” he said.
Councilman Elden ‘Red’ Nutt once viewed the park as a great white elephant.
“Hopefully, someday it will be a revenue source for us,” he said. “If we put in a concession stand, we will need restrooms.”
Nutt and his colleagues were against the use of porta potty restrooms at the softball complex that’s due to open next spring.
As owner of Jake’s Coffee, Tea & Sandwiches, Councilman Jake Parks had a problem accepting the donation “because a concession would be a competitor,” he said.
After much discussion, Mistlin finally had enough.
“I have sat here and I can’t believe what I have been hearing,” he addressed the council. “I don’t want to put you on the spot, but if you don’t want the money then I will find some other use for it, and that will be the end of my donating to Ripon.”
He not only provided much of the land, but also paid for the majority of the building that’s taking place at the softball fields.
In the end, council accepted the Mistlin donation, voting 4-1 – Parks provided the ‘no’ vote – while directing staff to move forward with arranging for the funding for the restrooms.
Deputy City Administrator Kevin Werner indicated that the concession stand will have windows on the water tower side, with the exterior of structure blending in with that of the signature tower.
He added that the restrooms will come equipped with changing rooms for people arriving to the park directly from work and needing to change into their sports gear.
The $600,000 cost for concession stand and $400,000 for the restrooms were based on bids from O.C. Jones and Sons Construction.