This Friday, the League of Wisconsin Municipalities will be having their Summer Urban Alliance meeting here in Wisconsin Rapids. I will be joined by mayors from cities around Wisconsin to tour the NewPage mill and share dialogue and perspectives on some of the pressing issues affecting municipalities around the state.
One area of significance that will be discussed stems with Governor Walker’s recent decision to partially lift a recent moratorium on the Historic Preservation Tax Credit (Act 62). This act has tremendously impacted municipalities throughout Wisconsin in that by passing Act 62, it doubled the tax credit for rehabilitating historic buildings, and now makes Wisconsin’s credit comparable with that of Minnesota and other states around the country. This is significant because Historic Preservation Tax Credits are often used by communities to preserve and revitalize their historic buildings.
Cities throughout our state and country have recognized the value in preserving historic buildings. It has long been understood that beautifying and rehabilitating historic buildings throughout our communities not only helps keep our heritage alive, but also puts money into our economy, assists with job creation and helps promote tourism. The Historic Preservation Tax Credits have been used for creative projects in communities across Wisconsin, such as Racine, Green Bay and La Crosse, to make marked improvements to buildings in their communities- projects that were considered for years but were not financially feasible until the tax credits became available.
Meetings such as this with the Urban Alliance affords us the opportunity to have conversations with other city leaders on their approaches and to advocate for investment in cities. I anticipate a productive session this Friday and look forward to showcasing our community to leaders from around Wisconsin.
America in Bloom Judge Visits and Flowering Basket Celebration
Judges from the America in Bloom (AIB) national awards program will be visiting Wisconsin Rapids this week as part of the “evaluation component” of the AIB program. At one of the first Mayor’s Council on Beautification meetings, the group made the decision to enroll in the America In Bloom program, with a goal of helping identify and rank potential beautification projects within the City, with the benefit of having our community evaluated by experts who have visited many similarly sized communities across the nation. There is also an award component of the America in Bloom program, with recognition for outstanding achievement in each of six judging categories (overall impression, heritage preservation, environmental effort, forestry, landscapes, floral displays), as well as an overall recognition of outstanding community involvement.
In all, 33 communities are part in the AIB program this year, with the communities of Ottawa, IL, Arroyo Grande, CA, and Holliston, MA being the communities participating that fall within our population category of 15,001-19,000.
One of the beautification efforts that our visiting judges will undoubtedly see are the hanging flower baskets, now placed along West Grand Avenue, and 1st/2nd/Oak Streets. 38 baskets are now placed along these streets and are in full bloom. With the conclusion of the baskets being installed, it seemed fitting that those who were involved with the initiative take part in a celebration last week. It was an excellent turnout at Jennings last Wednesday, and was a perfect opportunity to celebrate the project, meet many of the individuals involved with all facets of the program, and learn of future plans with expanding the program. With perfect weather, attendees also were given a map of all basket locations and had the opportunity to “walk the path” to view each basket and “commemorative plaque.”
The hanging flower baskets are a great example of a community coming together to beautify our City. Thanks to the Water Works & Lighting Commission for their efforts in hanging the brackets on each post, as well as Wisconsin Rapids City employees for assistance in coordinating the effort, hanging the baskets, and watering. Finally, a very special thank you to Sue Wesley, watering volunteers, and members of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification for their efforts in making the idea a reality. If you or someone you know would like to be involved with the project (funding or volunteering time), please call or email my office to be put in contact with the project coordinators.
The next event for the Mayor’s Council on Beautification is planned to be held next Tuesday, July 22 at 4:30PM, at Incourage Community Foundation, 478 E Grand Ave, Wisconsin Rapids, WI 54494. This Tuesday’s meeting will include the chance to learn more about future planned projects and take part in beautifying our City. We hope to see you there!
The intent and focus of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification is to be resident-led, action-oriented in identifying potential projects, working to secure project funding from alternative sources and subsequently score and prioritize projects all the while, making our city a more attractive place for our current and future residents and businesses. After all, businesses locate in communities that invest in themselves and their appearance. Further, I am proud to see another example of resident-led engagement, this time in beautifying our City. If you’re interested in participating in future meetings, please contact me to be added to the contact list or feel free to attend future meetings, scheduled to be held the third Thursday of every month at 4:30PM
Cran Guy Voting Contest
The City of Wisconsin Rapids will soon be ordering a set of summer pole banners. During Blossom-Fest, you may have seen two new designs featured along our Downtown Streets (Banner 1, Banner 2). The City joined with the Convention & Visitor’s Bureau to build on those banners, and a number of summertime banners featuring Cran Guy have been proposed. With the designs nearly completed, there is an opportunity for you, our residents!
To view the present designs and suggest one of your own, visit the post on my Facebook page and comment to suggest a variation of Cran Guy, or LIKE others’ suggestions. The suggestion with the most “likes” may appear on the next pole banner in our downtown!
Ribbon Cutting and Coffee with the Mayor
Last Friday, I joined the Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors at Higher Grounds Bakery Cafe for a ribbon cutting. Now officially open, its fitting to have my next “Coffee with the Mayor” session at that location. On Thursday, July 31, I invite you to join me at Higher Grounds Bakery Cafe, 4231 8th Street South at 8:00AM for my next coffee session. All are welcome to join me for all or just part of the time, for breakfast (they have a great bakery) or just coffee, so spread the word to friends and neighbors.
Thank you for reading,
Mayor Zach Vruwink