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Donald Wiberg honored in naming of aquatic center

Dec. 24, 2013

The Wirth Aquatic Center at Wirth Park is now the Wiberg Aquatic Center, renamed in honor of former Parks and Recreation Commission Chairman Donald Wiberg, who died in 2010.

Director of Parks, Recreation and Forestry Bill Kolstad, who brought the proposal to the council, credited Wiberg with laying the foundation and philosophy for developing the park system that exists today, which includes 25 parks covering more than 1,800 acres.

"He was a tremendous man," Kolstad said. "He provided a lot of leadership and vision that precipitated the Park and Open Space Plan for the city and really contributed to facilities available now."

The Park and Recreation Commission, with five resident members, like Wiberg, appointed by the mayor, one member from the school district and one alderman, advises the Common Council about park aquisition and services, and supervises recreation centers and playgrounds.

In his 40 years of volunteer service to the commission, Wiberg served as vice chairman for three years and chairman for 24, until stepping down in 2003.

"I think it's very important that we recognize his service in this way, and I hope his family will apreciate this token of our own appreciation," Mayor Steve Ponto said.

Wiberg helped write the first Park and Open Space Plan, a master plan for the city's parks, in 2001, and was a vocal advocate for expanding the city's parks.

When pushing for the city to develop Mitchell Park in 1989, Wiberg told the Journal Sentinel, "It's unfortunate, but once residents start to get bitten by the bite of taxes, park development is recognized as one of those things that can be pushed aside until later." He argued it was important to include parks in the development of the city from the start, saying, "While this city is growing we need to plan for some green space."

Wiberg served in the U.S. Army during World War II and worked for A.O. Smith Corp. He also was an active volunteer with the Elmbrook Historical Society and American Legion Post 449.

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