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Outreach Efforts are Fostering Community Understanding of Woodman's Center Needs

Updated: Jun 22, 2023

Friends Feature: Jennifer Petruzzello

Earlier this spring, the Friends of the Woodman's Center hosted the Woodman's Center Community Day at the former SEARS building. The group has engaged over 5,000 community members and civic organizations since 2022 by sharing project information, rallying community voices, and raising private funds. We are fortunate to have such a passionate group of residents working to collect community feedback and planning for a successful project.

Community Day could not have been better named. For three hours, I witnessed many curious but mainly excited residents stroll through, representing diverse voices, all wanting to learn more.

Project volunteers, leaders, organizations, and supporters (Woodman's Food Market, Mercyhealth, and Uptown Janesville/RockStep Capital) made themselves available to help answer those questions.

In addition, attendees could interact with mock event spaces and play places for activities led by Janesville's state-bound Special Olympics team, Janesville Pickleball Club, the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater, and Janesville Youth Hockey, to name a few.

The successful event demonstrated what the Woodman's Center could become: A vibrant community space used multiple ways to meet a broad range of Janesville's needs. I appreciate everyone who came out on one of spring's unexpected cooler days to learn and share their thoughts about the initiative.

The most common question I received was, "When will construction begin?". The project is scheduled to come before the Janesville City Council for final approval and award of the construction contract in September 2023.

I also heard from some residents that they thought the facility would serve only as an ice arena and be built for one user group. I was thankful for an open conversation space to correct this project misconception.

The Woodman's Center is designed with three distinct spaces that work together to maximize facility flexibility and usage including a multi-purpose arena, a flexible/convention space, and an ice arena. It is intended to positively impact residents and businesses in Janesville, Rock County, and the State of Wisconsin by supporting local athletes with better access to training and game-ready facilities and the community with significant event and gathering spaces.

Together, the goal is to drive economic impact for all of Janesville, create/retain jobs, build equitable health and social outcomes, serve as a commercial redevelopment catalyst, and enhance Janesville's resiliency.

If you couldn't attend and want to learn more, I'd encourage you to visit or the Friends website at


Neighborhood and Community Services Director

A similar Letter to the Editor was published on April 6, 2023 in The Gazette.


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