Downtown Sparta market area named for Mueller
Reinhard Mueller has volunteered for 12 years on improving Sparta’s parks,
Monday evening, at the meeting of the Sparta Parks and Recreation Board of Directors, Muller was rewarded with the honor of having a downtown park named in his honor.
“Mueller Square” is now the name of the “Beaver Street Market” Farmers/Holiday Market area in the downtown area that Mueller has played a key role in developing since 2009. Attending the meeting Monday evening to pitch more improvements to the small mid-town area he plans to implement this spring, he was honored by board members in naming the park in his honor.
“It’s very surprising,” a humbled Mueller said. “Who ever thinks something like that is ever going to happen to them?”
Mueller said he takes pride as a builder in “creating something permanent in our community for all to enjoy. It’s an incredible feeling.”
But he says he hasn’t done things on his own – he’s had great cooperation from city fathers, organizations in the community and lots of volunteers.
It all started in 2005 when he designed and helped build the Rotary band shell in Evans-Bosshard Park. Since, he’s been the behind-the-scenes designer of nearly all the bike and walking path bridges in parks in the community.
He said his heart-tugging moment came when they were building a bridge at the Ben Bikin’ Park, where the giant bicycle greets tourists to the community and a five-year-old boy crossing it for the first time said, “thanks for building the bridge, mister!”
“You can’t buy that,” Mueller said.
He said the whole idea for the downtown project came about two years ago when Mike and Amy Bernath, who were stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army, came back with the idea of creating a European style market area like what they’d witnessed overseas.
Together with Skip and Nancy Frazee as well as Bruce and Trise Sheeterle, the idea came to reality and continues today, starting with a holiday market in 2015.
Today, Mueller still chairs the “Downtown Cooperative” that puts on the events, charging a nominal fee to vendors for use of the sales huts, put together with the help of Brad Cole. It started with five booths (now seven) and keeps improving annually.
Mueller proposed a plan Monday night to add a long, single-post shelter in the middle of the park between the booths, along with construction of a brick wall where people could sit to enjoy the acts in the stage area, which will also be expanded, along with improved walkways and new pavers that will encircle the area. Plus, every building will soon have electricity.
Mueller said the area once housed a vacated building he said was in “disrepair” owned by a national bank outside the community before it was taken over by the county on a tax lean and then provided to the city, who raised the building at a cost of about $50,000. The lot sat vacant for years until the idea came forward to develop the park, the land being moved into Sparta Park and Recreation government.
Mueller has also been instrumental – through his role on the Sparta Chamber of Commerce Board — in a downtown facet program, encouraging businesses to improve the outside looks of their building.
He said it started with a $15,000 grant made available to business building owners, but has grown to $30,000 plus today. “It’s all to bring more people downtown,” he said.
Mueller said funding for the downtown market park project are coming from donations from businesses and organizations.
“You never know how some of these things are going to turn out when you start something,” he said. “You can only look back on what you’ve accomplished.”