Where are Waupaca’s downtown boundaries was discussed at the city’s new Downtown Visioning Committee during its first meeting.
The newly appointed committee met Thursday, Feb. 6, in the upstairs conference room of T-Dub’s Public House.
“This is your plan, and we’re here to facilitate that,” said Eric Fowle, executive director of the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission.
The committee was appointed last month and is expected to come up with a concept plan by the end of this year for the future reconstruction of Main Street.
During last Thursday’s meeting, each committee member used a marker to draw a line around the area it sees as being the downtown before being asked to next show who lives downtown.
During the final part of the exercise, members of the committee marked downtown assets.
When the committee meets on Monday, March 24, it will be asked to identify downtown issues, opportunities, functions, connections and gaps.
“Planning is a process that is continual,” Fowle said. “The reason we are here is to develop a vision for downtown.”
The idea to do so is being driven by the planned reconstruction of Main Street.
John Edlebeck, the city’s director of public works, told the committee it is something he has been talking about with the Board of Public Works for 10 years.
In October of 2012, he presented a report to the board about the condition of Main Street.
Edlebeck gave the committee a shorter version of that presentation.
There has not been a complete repaving of Main Street in more than 20 years, he said.
“We have done patching,” Edlebeck said. “It’s mostly asphalt over concrete.”
The storm sewer is more than 100 years old, and the water main dates back to the 1800s, he said.
During the last 18 years, there have been 18 water main repairs on the four block section of Main Street which runs from Badger to Granite streets, he said.
In regard to the reconstruction of Main Street, Edlebeck said, “It is not a matter of if, but when.”
He told the committee construction would likely take place three to five years from now.
It is reasonable to consider that timeframe, Edlebeck said, noting the process of developing a concept will take the committee a year. It could take the Common Council a year to discuss how it would be financed. The actual design of the project would also take a year.
The city’s draft five-year capital improvement plan has the reconstruction of Main Street slated for 2016 and estimates the total cost of the project at $2.6 million.
Edlebeck told the committee to come up with ideas and let him worry about the engineering.
Fowle said the point of the committee is not to think about when the project will take place. “We want you to come up with the big picture,” he said.
The vision for downtown should be a long-term one of 10 or 20 years or more, he said.
Fowle described the process they are beginning as one that will be strategic, coordinated, transparent and without self constraints.
“It will be a guiding document,” he said.
Fowle used the words “placemaking” and “livability” as he talked to the group.
Placemaking, he said, is the process of creating places which attract people because they are interesting.
In a livable downtown, different features contribute to the environment, he said.
Throughout the process, public engagement is going to be encouraged.
“I would suggest is people are in the room, let them be part of the exercise,” Fowle said.
Meetings should include time for public comment, public informational meetings will be scheduled and they are looking at ways to allow for public input via the web, he said.