Consultants to hold public meeting at library
By Angie Landsverk
A public kickoff event about the city of Waupaca’s future redevelopment of Main Street is set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, in the Waupaca Area Public Library.
“The consultants will be here to go over the project. One-on-one discussions can occur. It’s open to the entire community,” said Brennan Kane, the city’s development director.
Individual and small group discussions may occur with the consultants and city staff after a brief overview of the project, he said.
The Waupaca Common Council approved a contract with RDG Planning & Design, of Des Moines, Iowa, in March for a downtown vision and redevelopment plan.
“Our consultants have done a great job to really get invested in our community and get involved in our community,” Kane said. “Each time they are here, they are here a minimum of three days.”
In addition to the May 18 public meeting, focus groups have already taken place and will continue.
Kane said the entire process will be transparent and involve the public.
Numerous public meetings are being planned to get input from residents throughout the community.
“It’s open to the community. We want people to voice their opinions,” Kane said. “The consultants need to know the issues and concerns of residents in order to incorporate them into the downtown plan.”
He said the May 18 meeting and focus groups are part of setting up a design studio in June.
“The design studio is a critical piece before we make an application to the (Wisconsin) DOT (Department of Transportation) for design exceptions related to how many parking stall we can maintain on Main Street,” Kane said.
The consultants want to gather information about the community and hear about concerns related to downtown and Waupaca’s economic vitality as a whole.
If residents are concerned about how downtown looks and feels and about pedestrian access, the consultants want to know, Kane said.
“All will be incorporated into the overall master plan,” he said.
The master plan’s components will include parking and market studies.
Last month, the common council accepted the completed parking study as it was presented.
A market study is now underway in the city.
“The market study is community-wide,” Kane said. “It can help identify businesses we want to attract.”
With Waupaca 35 minutes from Appleton and 25 minutes from Stevens Point, he said the community needs to define itself.
“What is viable in the community? What can the community support?” Kane asked.
He said they want to know what kind of business climate residents desire.
“Do they want more mom and pop shops on Main Street?” Kane said. “The central business district is always the heartbeat of a community.”
The council approved a contract with Gruen Gruen + Associates, of Chicago, for the market study.
Kane said that study is expected to be completed toward the end of summer.
RDG is scheduled to complete the downtown master plan around the end of the year.
The master plan will include a number of components, including the reconstruction of Main Street, the potential for new development and redevelopment possibilities, Kane said.
“There are opportunities for growth and new development here,” he said. “That is why we have a consultant.”
The city may maintain downtown’s historic character while also discovering the potential for development.
“Part of this plan is to create a more pedestrian friendly environment that includes wider sidewalks and includes streetscapes, such as benches, trees and public art,” Kane said. ‘One of the main goals is to create a more walkable environment.”
Kane said people may go to www.planwaupaca.com to comment on and follow the project’s progress.
“No decisions have been made. It’s a process, and we’re going through the process to find the solution that is workable for the city,” Kane said. “It is the community’s plan. That is why we’re seeking as much public opinion and input as possible. It will only make the public amenities better.”