Funding Main Street
Council approves more contracts
By Angie Landsverk
The city of Waupaca plans to fund the reconstruction of Main Street through a variety of sources, including grants and borrows.
The common council has not yet approved a funding level for the project.
City staff are recommending funding of $4.8 million, while designing the project for $5.3 million.
RDG Planning & Design, the consultant for the project, provided the city with potential funding levels of $4.3 million, $4.8 million and $5.3 million when the draft plan was unveiled on April 24.
The reconstruction of Main Street, from Badger to Water streets is scheduled to begin in 2021.
The infrastructure under the street is more than 100 years old.
“We provided the draft downtown plan to the Steering Committee for comments and review. We intend to bring the plan to the Plan Commission and council in the June/July time period for adoption of the plan,” said Brennan Kane, the city’s director of community and economic development.
The reconstruction project will include new utilities under the street, including sewer, water and stormwater, he said.
The water laterals into the individual buildings on Main Street will also be replaced, Kane said.
Concrete is currently being proposed for the street itself.
The project will also include new curb and gutter, decorative concrete sidewalks, new street lights, benches and landscaping.
“The $4.8 million includes all of that, We hope that there’s support from the community to fundraise for some of the additional dollars for some of the additional architectural features,” Kane said.
Those features include signage and public art.
The sidewalks will be replaced at their existing widths, except in certain areas, he said.
Those exceptions include the block in front of the Waupaca Area Chamber of Commerce, where parallel parking is proposed, as well as the area on North Main, where the ramp leads to Rotary Riverview Park.
There is currently no parking there, and the plan is to make the sidewalk wider there.
He said the other area where a wider sidewalk is proposed is at North Main and Granite streets.
“Further investigation will be taken in Phase II,” Kane said. “That area by Danes Hall, as well as Rotary Riverview Park, will be investigated more in Phase II of the Main Street plan.”
“Main Street will be a state-run project,” said Kathryn Kasza, the city’s finance director/treasurer.
The city already qualified for $1.7 million in federal funding for the project.
That funding is through the Surface Transportation Urban Program (STP), which the DOT manages.
“The $1.7 million is for construction specifically, and then there is approximately $200,000 built into that for construction oversight, so that number is actually about $1.9 million,” Kane said.
In addition, the city will apply for $500,000 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds, he said.
The $1.9 million and $500,000 the city hopes to receive totals $2.4 million.
The cost to put in new utilities is $900,000.
The city plans to fund that through the utilities by seeking Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water loan funds.
That would be funded over 20 years and is not expected to impact utility rates.
“That leaves $1.5 million that the city will have to borrow for the rest of the project,” Kasza said. “It’ll be General Obligation debt supported by the tax levy. Right now. we’re planning for 10 to 15-year note.”
In 2018, the city will pay off its recreation center debt. That will free up about $500,000 in the debt service levy, she said.
“Because of the city prepaying the Hendrickson Center debt and some of the other outstanding issues and not borrowing as much as we are paying off, we’re able to fund this project so that the impact on the tax levy is zero or minimal,” Kasza said. “Based on a $100,000 home in 2018, right now, we’re anticipating that there we be no increase in the debt service tax levy for 2018.”
Engineering portions of the project will be beginning.
“In 2019 and 2020, it’s the same thing – based on this year’s numbers, we would have not an additional increase in the tax levy,” she said.
In 2016, the city’s outstanding debt was $11.3 million.
“By the time we get to this project in 2021 – even with issuing the new debt for capital projects and the Main Street project – the city will be at $8.5 million,” Kasza said.
In addition to the rec center debt, the other main project the city has outstanding debt for is the police department project.
“By refinancing the Hendrickson Center and moving up paying it off, we ended up shortening it up two years,” Kasza said.
Kane said the Main Street project will not take away from any of the city’s other capital needs, and the city’s debt will decrease.
He also said the $4.8 million number for the project is a 2021 number.
Inflation was factored in to make it in line with what the cost will be that year.
“One of the challenges was to be able to do this large of a project and still be able to maintain other capital projects on an annual basis,” Kasza said. “We’re fitting in this project without causing financial stress.”
When the common council met on May 16, it approved four contracts related to the reconstruction of Main Street and the redevelopment of the downtown district.
The contracts totaled $777,500.
The council unanimously approved three of the contracts.
In the other case, one council member abstained, resulting in an 8-1-0 vote.
Lori Chesnut abstained from voting on the contract related to the Phase II design and engineering for the reconstruction of Main Street.
The council awarded that contract to SEH Engineering Services and RDG Planning & Design at a cost not to exceed $543,730.
“The $4.8 million includes the Phase II design and engineering,” Kane said.
He said Phase II will bring the engineering plans from 30 percent to 100 percent complete and allow for bids to be sought.
Chesnut asked if the council should wait to hear from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) regarding the design exceptions the city requested for parking.
She said she abstained for that reason, as well as because she believes there needs to be better communication between the city and partners in the project.
Kane told the council the city received positive feedback from the DOT regarding the design exceptions it is seeking for parking.
The DOT favors parallel parking, and the city sought an exception to maintain as much angle parking on Main Street as possible.
“We’re hopeful on that right now,” Kane said.
The other contracts the council approved were $101,750 with SEH Engineering Services and RDG Planning & Design for City Hall parking improvements; $75,020 with RDG for a Rotary Riverview Park and master plan update; and $57,000 with SEH for grant administration/funding assistance.
During last June’s design studio, the city received comments related to the loss of parking with the Main Street plan.
A number of parking options were considered before the decision was made to maintain the majority of angle parking with some parallel parking.
The city also decided to look at how it could add parking downtown.
The City Hall parking redesign will include the parking lot, as well as looking at Fulton, Jefferson and Union streets around it.
“We anticipate to complete the drawings by the end of the year with anticipated construction in 2018,” Kane said. “We’re estimating between 30 and 40 new stalls are being provided.”
The estimated cost of design and construction is $630,000.
Kasza said the cost would be part of the city’s borrow for capital projects.
The additional parking stalls would then be in place prior to Main Street being reconstructed in 2021.
The $75,020 cost to update the Rotary Riverview Park will also be part of the city’s 2017 capital borrow.
Kane said the idea is to reorient the city back to Waupaca River.
The river is an asset to the downtown, and throughout the process, there have also been discussions about making enhancements to the backs of the buildings, he said.
The present master plan for the park is more than 10 years old.
This planning update will include not only the park, but the area around Danes Hall, Rasmussen Park, the city’s garage on Water Street and the idea of a new pedestrian bridge.
The city will use contingency funds to cover the $57,000 cost for grant funding assistance.
Kane said the city will also look at potential grant programs to help the downtown businesses get through the time when Main Street is reconstructed.