Community Update – February 18

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Regional Infrastructure

Last Monday I hosted a discussion at City Hall on the large subject of infrastructure. In attendance were City representatives, members of the Regional Economic Growth Initiative (REGI) infrastructure subcommittee, and the City’s Account Manager from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC).

In this meeting, WEDC provided insight on resources potentially available to our infrastructure inquiry efforts and how our work could serve other regions in the state as a best practice. Additionally, the group had a productive discussion, taking a holistic look at infrastructure in our area and asking what else can be done with respect to capitalizing on existing capacities and plan future investments in infrastructure to offer a more modern and competitive infrastructure.

If we are going to successfully retain expansions and attract new firms, marketing our infrastructure ‘assets’ and understanding our gaps is critical. In recent years, the city has made significant investments in Wastewater. WW&LC has made continuous investments in the electrical grid serving our city. Solarus has made large investments in fiber connectivity. However, we cannot stop there, and the group is committed to furthering the conversation to ensure our infrastructure is competitive and attractive for business to create jobs. I will report more on this as our work evolves.

Tribune Building Meetings

Last Tuesday marked the fourth and final meeting of “Phase 1” of the Tribune meeting process. At this meeting, myself and over 150 people took part in selecting the future adaptive reuse of the building. To date, over 400 community members have been involved in this resident-led decision making process! This meeting focused on space utilization; exploring how priorities defined in earlier meetings could fit together in the 20,000 square foot of space available.  Tribune Ideas

I was struck by the energy in the room! Everyone who wanted to be heard was heard. Further, ideas started to take shape. Not every idea would fit, but compromises abounded.

These meetings served as a reminder of how unique our City is.  Incourage’s resident-centered and resident-led approach to adaptive reuse of a historic and iconic building in our community is further affirmation to me that our community has an abundance of creative thinkers willing to come together and be a part of renewing Wisconsin Rapids. Our residents have demonstrated that we are a community who believes in ourselves and are optimistic about our future. I look forward to the design and construction phase this spring. See tribunebuilding.org for more information.

Notable Meetings and Visitors

Last week I met with a staff member of the Family Center and UW Extension to discuss preliminary details of their plans to hold a “Parents Who Host” town hall meeting in May.  “Parents Who Host” is a public awareness program educating communities and parents about the health and safety risks of serving alcohol at teen parties. I am pleased to support their efforts.

The City Clerk and I had the pleasure of hosting 2nd graders from Washington Elementary. About 60 students toured the Police Department and learned about our local government’s legislative process, including holding “mock” City Council meetings and an election. The students voted on whether students should be allowed to have bikes at recess, as well as if McDonalds for school lunch was a good idea. Although votes were close, the “Student City Council” voted “Yes” for bikes at recess and “No” for McDonalds at lunch. As always, the students were full of good questions!  It was inspiring to see students enthusiastic and engaged in the democratic process at a young age!

Coffee with the Mayor

Last week, I held a discussion session at From The Ground Up Coffeehouse, and this week I met with residents at Craving’s Coffee Shop. I am glad residents are attending to ask questions and provide me feedback. I always enjoy the opportunity to meet and have conversation!

Next Tuesday, Feb. 25, I will be at Perkins from 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. The following week, on Wednesday, March 5, I will be at Olympic II Family Restaurant from 8:30 – 9:30 a.m. Spread the word to friends and neighbors and join me for breakfast or coffee and conversation!

Regards,
Mayor Zach Vruwink

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