Area parks named in $3 million endowment - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Area parks named in $3 million endowment

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A couple of area parks can be improved upon indefinitely thanks to a generous gift.

Longtime residents Gerald and Evelyn Thorpe established a charitable foundation for the benefit of Chippewa Falls before they passed away. It adds up to approximately $3 million.

A statement from the trust says the couple wanted to give back to the community which had been so good to them. Since they were avid lovers of the outdoors, they chose the Chippewa Falls Park Board as the beneficiary, specifically naming Marshall Playground and Irvine Park as the focus.

"It was out of the blue. Gerald and Evelyn Thorp: it was a wonderful thing they decided to do for our community.  This will have a huge impact on our parks system for years and years to come. Between Marshall and Irvine Park, there are many, many opportunities for improvements," Chippewa Falls Park Director Dick Hebert says.

The trust is set up in a unique way. The Park Board will only be able to draw on the interest accrued each year. This means the endowment won't run out. This year the interest totals about $150,000.

The money can only be used for replacing or building structures and acquiring animals.  It can not be used for operational expenses. An example of where the money could go: Irvine Park recently started planning for a new welcome center and exhibit area. The $2.3 million project would not be paid for with any city money.

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