Over the past couple weeks, you may have noticed one of several enhancements being made around the City. These enhancements are related to a concept I’ve referred to as the 3rd Space – where we spend our time beyond work or home. Wisconsin Rapids has much to be proud from this perspective- a robust trail system, municipal zoo, a skatepark and over 100 acres of City parks. What we have, we can further build on to make our City a more attractive place to visitors and residents. This week’s Community Update highlights some of the recent, and upcoming projects around the City:
New Playground Equipment in Poplar Springs
With existing playground equipment at Poplar Springs Park past its useful life, the Park and Recreation Commission made a decision earlier this summer to proceed with purchasing and installing new playground equipment. Last week, installation of new playground equipment took place at Poplar Springs park- a marked improvement in equipment compared to what had been previously installed at the park! With the equipment in place, finishing steps still remain for the area around the perimeter of the equipment, and in a previous Community Update, I mentioned plans to work with a neighborhood volunteer group for some of these finishing elements.
Weather permitting, these steps should be completed in time for our residents to enjoy the equipment this fall. I will be sure to update everyone on the anticipated completion date (and celebration event) when a date is established.
One of the more subtle enhancements over the past few weeks has been the addition of bike lanes to roads around the City. So far this year, bike lanes have been painted on 1st Street South, Gaynor Ave. (from 25th Ave. to the bike trail) and Baker St. (from 5th to 16th St.). Part of the complete streets program, new marked trails are proposed along 32nd St., and various ‘shared bike lanes’ are proposed to connect existing bike paths and parks within the City.
As one of many avid bikers myself, I have experienced firsthand, in our City and Cities throughout the country, the various benefits that bike lanes on City’s streets can serve both to motor vehicle drivers and bike riders. Bike lanes can transform the bicycle riding experience by improving our City’s streetscape, encouraging active and healthy activity, and contribute to a sense of community. Of course, these lanes are critical for the improved safety of cyclists; they help get bikes and cars out of each others way. But they also provide significant benefits for the livability of our city- the mobility and health of our residents and support our ongoing pursuit of environmental sustainability.
One of my priorities as Mayor has been to enhance the livability of our community, as well as to work towards providing a coherent and connected bike and trail system. The planning and development of bicycle lanes are a crucial component of our City’s transportation infrastructure as well as an interconnected bike system within our community and connecting to other communities. Finally, the timing of our focus on bicycle safety and solutions for an interconnected bicycle system couldn’t be better for the launch of the River Riders bike share program.(click for more info) Having an interconnected bike lane system will ensure cyclist safety in getting between points and to their destination. I am pleased our city has acted to improve the safety of those who choose alternative modes of transportation. Signage and a further explanation of the street markings to come.
Beautification Meeting and Tree Planting Event
The next meeting of the Mayor’s Council on Beautification is planned to be held this Thursday, September 18 at 4:30PM, in the first floor conference room in City Hall. This Thursday’s meeting will include a recap of the flowering basket initiative and planning for future projects to take part in beautifying our City. One such project is a tree planting event, taking place Saturday, October 4. Planned to begin at 10:30AM, the tree planting event will include volunteers planting trees on 1st Street, at Mead Rapids View Park. The event will be a bridge between the Mayor’s Council on Beautification and an upcoming Mayor’s Youth Council, planned for launch this fall. All are invited to help volunteer with the tree planting event. If you are interested in participating and would like to receive further details related to the event, please contact me. 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 invest in communities that invest in themselves and their appearance. 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.
Thank you for reading,
Mayor Zach Vruwink