City selected for UW project
UW student to develop riverwalk plan in Clintonville
By Bert Lehman
A University of Wisconsin-Madison student is working with Clintonville to develop a riverwalk plan for the city.
City Administrator Sharon Eveland informed the city council in an Oct. 8 memo that UW-Madison’s Department of Planning and Landscape Architecture selected Clintonville for a service-learning project.
“This is a yearlong project with a community partner where the student develops, with oversight by the professors, a usable plan for the community partner,” Eveland said in the memo.
When contacted by the Clintonville Tribune-Gazette, Eveland said the student has already met with Eveland and many city department managers and will develop a useable riverwalk plan.
“That is a very, very long-term (project), it could be 30-40 years before you see this completely done,” Eveland said. “But if you don’t have a vision for it, then it’s clearly never going to happen. The first step is getting that vision, getting that plan. The program, that student, is going to assist in putting that together.”
Eveland said the first part of the process for the student is gathering data. Public community sessions to solicit input from the community are being discussed.
Before applying to be part of the program, Eveland said she researched projects completed last year by UW-Madison students in the program.
“I was really impressed with what was provided,” she said. “I’m confident that we’re going to get some good stuff too.”
The intent is to have a plan completed by May.
By going through the UW-Madison program to develop a riverwalk plan, Eveland said the city will save money.
“If you had hired a consultant to do this, you’d probably be looking at about $25,000,” Eveland said.
She said the only cost the city will incur is if it decides to cover some of the student’s travel expenses to Clintonville for various meetings.
When asked how comprehensive the riverwalk plan will be, Eveland said, “I applied because I felt the caliber of work shown as examples was very good.”
The riverwalk plan will include property the Merc building currently occupies.
Eveland said there are around six years of back property taxes owed on that property. Both Waupaca County and the city of Clintonville have had discussions regarding the building and property.
“This has kind of been an issue off and on since I came here,” Eveland said. “What do we do about that building? And there’s been some serious talk about putting a raze order on it. The building is in very bad condition.”
If the building were to be razed, funds to cover that expense could come from the city’s funds that were previously in a revolving loan fund program.
When the state closed the program that included the city’s revolving loan fund funds, the city had excess funds.
Because it met the standards to defederalize those funds, the city was able to do whatever it wanted with them.
“What we ended up doing with the vast majority of it was signing an agreement with the county to give them $300,000 to help them pay off their receivables so that they could then still retain a revolving loan fund that everybody in the county, including the city (of Clintonville) would have access to,” Eveland said.
The funds have to be used for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) eligible projects, Eveland said.
Razing the Merc building for a riverwalk would be a CDBG eligible project.
Eveland said the city looked at tearing down the Merc building, or applying those funds to the proposed swimming facility.
“The swimming facility, as much as I want to see that happen, I really do, there is both a time limit on how long you have to use the CDBG funds. With the expense of the swimming facility, (the city) could not guarantee that we would be able to raise sufficient funds to actually use the CDBG money for that project. And the other thing is, that building, structurally has got to be addressed.”
The city recently issued a summary abatement order on the Merc building property because of issues with some of the overhang on the building.
“Basically, that means we tell the owner that you have to fix this within 24 hours because it’s an immediate danger to the public, or we’re going to go in and take care of it ourselves and charge you for it,” Eveland said.
She said the owner of the building addressed the issue the following day.
“But in general, you can walk by that building and see that there is major decay,” Eveland said. “And, I and the council felt that the more immediate need is to address the Merc.”
Eveland said the city will continue to have discussions with Waupaca County regarding the property.
“My hope is to do something (with the building) within the next year,” she said.