Main Street work continues in Waupaca
Shop owners appreciate city’s efforts
By Angie Landsverk
One month into the reconstruction of Waupaca’s Main Street, business owners with decades of experience in downtown are happy to see it happening and say it is going well.
“The first month was wonderful,” said Pat Fletcher.
She said April was a good month for Fletcher’s Jewelry, with foot traffic continuing to be steady.
Gerke Excavating was working in front of the store late last Friday morning.
In a short amount of time, a handful of customers walked into the store for various reasons.
The vibrations from the work outside were being felt inside the jewelry store.
An employee said they keep an eye on glass items on shelves to check if anything moves.
Fletcher and her husband Jeff own the store.
Open in downtown Waupaca since 1937, Fletcher’s Jewelry has been at its current location since 1974.
“I think we’ve been preparing for years,” she said of the work that is underway.
The city began planning for the project several years ago and held numerous meetings about it.
The improvements will include reconstruction of the street, replacement of the sanitary sewer and water main, as well as a new storm water system, new sidewalk, curb and gutter.
The utilities under the street are at least 100 years old.
The first phase began in late March and involves North Main Street, between Water and Fulton streets.
It is expected to be completed around the middle of July.
Phase two then begins from Fulton to Badger streets, with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31.
“I’m glad it’s here, and it’s being done,” Fletcher said. “The project’s going very well.”
She said Gerke Excavating’s crew has been excellent.
“When they work close to the sidewalk, they are very conscientious of people walking and will stop working,” Fletcher said.
She said they have a great plan for when they replace the sidewalks.
“It’s going to be done in sections,” Fletcher said.
The business does not have a back entrance for customers.
She said customers may park on Cooper Street behind the store and walk up the ramp.
Many of their customers are parking by the library.
Still open for business
Steve DeHamer said, “They’re doing a great job of keeping things as accessible as they can.”
DeHamer owns Waupaca River Gallery and Gifts in the same block.
He and others appreciate how the city is communicating with them throughout the project.
The city provides a weekly construction update each Friday via email.
People may visit www.cityofwaupaca.org/downtown2021 to sign up for them.
DeHamer made the same adjustments to his business that he did last year after the COVID-19 pandemic began.
His store is typically open until early afternoon.
DeHamer reserves the afternoon hours for pickups and deliveries at customers’ homes.
He communicates with his customers and said business has been fine.
“I’m fortunate and blessed. I have great customers and clients – people who are very supportive,” DeHamer said.
Fletcher said business has been back to normal for them since last June.
Once the store opened back up, the customers were back, she said.
She noted people continue to call and ask about their hours.
“We’re open our normal business hours,” Fletcher said. “We’re open for business. Just come and see us.”
For those uncomfortable going into the store, they offer options like delivery and shipping.
The delivery service is only in the local area.
At Main Street Marketplace, Bernadette Pegorsch said they have not noticed any slow down due to the construction.
She said people are finding places to park and walking to the store.
Pegorsch and her husband Kent own the gift shop at the corner of Fulton and Main streets.
When the sidewalk is removed in front of the store, they plan to open the Fulton Street entrance for their customers.
Services they put in place last year due to the pandemic remain in place.
That includes their online store and curbside service.
“We’re going to keep the (curbside) service and online store,” she said.
Pegorsch believes residents will feel a sense of pride when they see the new Main Street.
She is excited about the intersection of Fulton and Main streets becoming a four-way stop, saying she has seen accidents and many near misses on that corner through the years.
Those driving through the intersection this week noticed the traffic signals are no longer flashing.
The power was cut to the signals due to the work pushing up against the intersection.
The underground lines were in conflict with the new utilities.
“It’s going to be so nice,” Pegorsch said of the completed project.
“It’ll be interesting to see what it brings,” he said. “The finished product is going to be beautiful.”