HOWARD, Wis. (WFRV) A long-planned project for the Village Center in Howard is about to become a reality. A generous donation is moving a pavilion project forward.

On this three-acre plot of land in Howard’s Village Center District, a gathering place will soon be built. A facility that Village Administrator Paul Evert says will make an impression on Northeast Wisconsin.

“It’s an incredible blend of architectural esthetic, it’s very pleasing, plus it functions really well,” said Evert.

For over 10 years the village has designated this land near the YMCA to be used as a place to relax, to gather, to enjoy each other’s company. And next spring they will start build this $12-$14 million multi-use pavilion where ice skating, roller skating, festivals and farmers markets will be held.

“People want these outdoor spaces. They want to be outdoors listening to music, enjoying a beverage, with kids running around the lawn. It really makes a great feel and it’s nice to be able to do it in your own community,” said Evert.

The village is modeling their development after a pavilion in Valparaiso, Indiana, which village officials visited back in 2017.

“People will be stunned at how beautiful this facility really will be,” Evert said.

Evert says the project can move forward thanks to a substantial donation from Dan Schmidt of Bay Industries – who is honoring his parents.

“He has agreed to have the pavilion named after his parents, so that’s an almost $5 million gift to help move this project forward and get it off center,” Evert said.

And with the pavilion built on a site in the middle of where hundreds live – people like Dan Mathias know it will get lots of use.

“In a way I hate to see the green grass go away, but I also know it will be progress. If they build the buildings, there will be a lot of activities there for people,”Mathias said.

“These things really do build a sense of community, having a place for people to go see each other. I think people will be impressed and proud to have it in their community,” said Evert.

He hopes the pavilion will be able to open in the spring of 2023.