Senator Baldwin’s Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act
In my State of the City Address this past February, I stated that now is the time for us, as a community, to recognize that a vibrant Downtown waterfront area is key to maximizing our potential for economic growth and making our area an ideal place to live, work and play. A strategic plan of action must include private investments in place; City property reuse; and preliminary design work for improvements along the east and west banks of the river by Supermass Studio. The goal has been to continue to build public support for development, while establishing a realistic scope and cost for the work.
With this in mind, we are excited by the possibilities U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin offers in proposed legislation she announced recently- The Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act– which would support local efforts to revive waterfronts along the Great Lakes, oceans, rivers and lakes to promote robust and durable economic, ecosystem and community sustainability.
With specific regard to the Wisconsin Rapids area, the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act would make available tangible and impactful benefits, by:
- Funding grants ranging from $50,000 to $1 million to develop and implement projects such as improving waterfront access, acquiring easements from developers for public amenities and making infrastructure upgrades;
- Extending preferred status in other federal grant and loan programs to help waterfront projects move forward more quickly and help maximize the value of federal investments; and
- Establishing a network of Resilient Waterfront Communities to share best practices, highlight model communities and help attract new investment.
Given our attention to our waterfront, this bill is timely and potentially invaluable. The language in the bill strongly reflects our efforts and focus here in terms of acknowledging the importance of developing a viable community waterfront plan. The legislation also reinforces the vision of our citizens – a public investment in our waterfront development and infrastructure that reflects our focus on our Downtown waterfront district as a commercial – residential – recreational destination. I am pleased with Senator Baldwin’s leadership to make our waterways here and nationally a priority!
Supermass Studio presents second-phase Riverfront Design concepts
On a very related note, I was inspired to see City residents continue to help steer the direction of Wisconsin Rapids waterfront development last Wednesday evening, August 5. Supermass Studio co-founder and design team lead Taewook Cha presented the refined concepts for open spaces along the Wisconsin River at Veterans Memorial Park, following the Community Picnic across the river.
This was the second phase of the Riverfront Design project concepts, developed from feedback residents provided on the initial proposals presented at Lunch by the River in early July. Afterward, the public and City leaders were given the opportunity to express their opinions to Taewook during a Q&A and feedback session.
Having now twice engaged area citizens for their input on the early designs, Supermass plans to give a third presentation in September, incorporating additional concepts and changes from residents and City officials. Following that, City staff and I will undergo a process to gain further input from the public on the long-term vision for the spaces along the river. So stay engaged!
To ensure that all our citizens have the opportunity to engage with the design process, I strongly encourage you to visit our City website for a view of Taewook’s presentation from last week, and to get a full-fledged view of all the second-phase photos and maps. As we approach the final design, we will be reaching out for your specific feedback on the proposed designs.
If you missed the event you can view the video by RCCA Media.
Wisconsin Rapids has Wisconsin’s “best-tasting water”
This past Monday, August 10, the City of Wisconsin Rapids Water Works and Lighting Commission (WWLC) won the 2015 title for “Best-Tasting Water” during the Wisconsin State Fair. WWLC submitted a water sample for the fair’s annual water taste-testing event and finished in first place. Samples were judged on the basis of taste, odor and clarity of appearance. Celebrity judges included representatives of MillerCoors, Ocean Spray, The Water Council, Public Service Commission and Wisconsin brew masters.
The competition – sponsored by the Wisconsin Water Association – included 21 drinking water utilities from around the state. The taste test showcased the work of more than 900 water professionals in Wisconsin who provide safe, high-quality drinking water.
Wisconsin Rapids will now compete for a national title at ACE16, the American Water Works Association annual conference, to be held in Chicago, June 19-22, 2016.
Thank you for reading,
Mayor Zach Vruwink