Council approves $167,000 in contracts
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca is taking its next steps in preparing for the future reconstruction of Main Street.
Earlier this month, the common council awarded contracts for a downtown vision and redevelopment plan, topographic engineering services and retail market analysis.
The council approved a total project budget of $167,000 for the downtown plan.
That includes $134,435 for a contract with RDG Planning & Design, of Des Moines, Iowa for the downtown vision and redevelopment plan itself, $17,500 for a separate contract with Short Elliott Hendrickson, Inc. (SEH), of Appleton, for survey work and $15,000 for a contingency fund.
These costs are being covered by a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant, $17,000 Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation Grant, $25,000 from the city’s sewer and water account and by the city funding an additional $100,000 from this year’s State Trust Fund Loan.
The council also approved a contract of $25,000 with Gruen Gruen + Associates, of Chicago, for a retail market analysis.
The funding for that project will be divided among the city’s eight Tax Increment Districts.
The city received 10 proposals to prepare a downtown plan and 30 percent of the engineering plan.
A review panel made up of City Administrator Henry Veleker, Development Director Brennan Kane, Director of Public Works Justin Berrens, Code Enforcement Officer Lindsey Kemnitz, Ald. Eric Olson, Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce President Terri Schulz and Eric Fowle, of East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, reviewed the proposals.
Ater narrowing it to the top five and interviewing each of them, the panel then narrowed it to two firms and and recommended RDG for the contract.
Marty Shukert, of RDG, told the council the firm sees it as an exciting project and opportunity.
“We’re enthusiastic about the team assembled to work on the project with you,” he said.
RDG, which specializes in preparing plans for downtowns and designs for streetscapes, is in its 50th year.
SEH and Gruen Gruen + Associates also have long histories.
Last year, SEH celebrated 80 years in business, and Gruen celebrated 46 years in existence on Feb. 14.
RDG has done about 80 downtown projects, including one in De Pere, with its work the recipient of numerous community and regional planning awards and recognitions.
“The art of planning is to maximize the possible,” Shukert said.
He said the discussion will not just be about Main Street but about the entire downtown district.
That means the plan will investigate such topics as the infrastructure, market, river and economic development and how they relate to each other.
“The process starts with engaging the community,” he said.
Cory Scott, who will be the project manager, said the next couple months will include an awareness campaign so people know when meetings are being held and how they may get involved.
There will be a kickoff event in April, with the project wrapping up by December, he said.
A number of community stakeholders will be part of the process, and RDG “would love to work with your students,” he said.
Scott said seeking input from the community is important.
Even something such as placing a box outside of City Hall, where people can say what they want to see in district, is an example of how to go the people, he said.
A merchant survey will begin in the next month, and Scott said all of this will help understand community patterns.
Looking at the existing charater of uses will also be part of their work.
Shukert said the streetscape portion will involve looking at various elements.
“We will end the process with a public and interactive open house, where we spend hours talking to people and reviewing ideas,” he said.
Scott compared working in Waupaca to a project the firm did in 2006 in Park Rapids, Minnesota.
That community of 3,700 people sees its population increase to about 15,000 in the summer, he said, just as Waupaca sees its population do so.
“It’s now a must-go destination,” he said.
There are new businesses and the downtown continues to grow, Scott said.
Visiting Waupaca reminded him of many communities in which the firm has worked.
“The thing I think you will see,” Shukert said, “is we become your friends, coworkers, partners. We really feel in our hearts that Waupaca is that kind of community.”