Kickoff meeting examines redevelopment
By Angie Landsverk
Residents, business owners and city officials worked together during the May 18 public kickoff event about the future redevelopment of Waupaca’s downtown.
At least 80 people gathered in meeting rooms of the Waupaca Area Public Library to discuss the downtown’s opportunities, challenges, needs and the top priorities of a future project.
“It’s your plan. It’s not ours. We want to be the instrument to help you get there,” said Cory Scott, project manager of RDG Planning & Design.
RDG, of Des Moines, Iowa, is the consultant hired by the city to develop a downtown vision and redevelopment plan.
“The big reason we’re looking at this is because the infrastructure is over 100 years old,” Brennan Kane, the city’s development director, said.
The planning to address that infrastructure and redevelop the downtown began in 2014 and most recently included the completion of a parking study.
Kane said data from that parking study is part of what the consultants will consider in developing a plan.
Many of those who attended last week’s meeting favor keeping the current angle parking on Main Street.
A decision about parking has not been made, and most of the groups named parking as one of the top three priorities of the future reconstruction.
Aesthetics, attention to North Main Street and how the reconstruction will be approached and timed were other priorities cited by those in attendance.
Among downtown’s opportunities are its history, library, space for new businesses, presence of artists and fact the Waupaca River winds through it.
People said North Main Street, the vacant Danes Home and former St. Mary Magdalene Catholic Church, as well as parking and vacant storefront are challenges.
Some said there needs to be more police presence downtown, and others want to see senior and youth friendly events and more mid and high-end living spaces above businesses.
Marty Shukert, principal at RDG, said good city planning increases interaction while minimizing distress.
The idea is to make the experience of being, buying, living and working downtown a positive one, he said.
Main Street is not just about fixing the water and sewer but about creating an environment where both public and private investment is encouraged.
Prior to the May 18 public meeting, small group discussions took place.
The city will continue to seek public input.
A design studio will be held from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, June 21, and Wednesday, June 22, at 215 N. Main St.
People are encouraged to stop by to share their ideas and draw concepts.
The project’s progress may also be followed at www.planwaupaca.org.
Shukert said RDG has already done a lot of field work by taking notes and photographs and even riding bicycles through the downtown area.
The consultants were overwhelmed by the turnout for last week’s kickoff event.
By the end of the summer, the firm will have solid ideas which will be put into three-dimensional graphics.
The tentative schedule in 2017 will include detailed design and construction documents, more public meetings and review, and seeking approval from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
The earliest construction could begin is in 2018.