'A symbol for the township:' New Hamburg trade board eyeing waterwheel upgrade
NEW HAMBURG -- A New Hamburg landmark may soon be getting a facelift.
The old wooden waterwheel at William Scott Park could be replaced with a steel one as the Board of Trade eyes an upgrade.
First built by the New Hamburg Trade Board in 1990, the waterwheel has started showing its age recently and even stopped rotating last year.
"It's around 30 years old, so it is past its life expectancy," said Joe Figliomeni, chair of the Board of Trade's Waterwheel Committee.
The board is proposing a design similar to the original, but the new steel one would generate power.
"It's not going to generate a lot, but if we could get the lights down in the park area lit, that would be great," Figliomeni said.
The group is also suggesting adding an educational component, such as a kiosk, to explain the history and importance of local milling operations.
Figliomeni estimates the cost of upgrading the waterwheel between $200,000 and $300,000.
Some New Hamburg residents who spoke to CTV News said they felt the price tag was too steep, but the trade board says it’s a worthwhile investment.
"We want to sort of capitalize on that and see if we can draw more tourists to the area," Figliomeni said.
For many, the structure is more than just a waterwheel, but an iconic emblem for the community.
"It's a symbol for the Township of Wilmot and New Hamburg in general," Figliomeni said.
The trade board says there will be a fundraising component involved to support the project, but only if the community is on board with the upgrade.
"It's got to be a community project, so we have to have community consensus," Figliomeni said.
The trade board is presenting its plans to council Monday and is asking for feedback from the public.
If approved, the project could start early in the new year with the new steel waterwheel spinning in the park by the end of next summer.