Community Update: East River Bank project another step toward riverfront renaissance, Yard waste/brush collection begins soon – do your part to help


East River Bank project another step toward riverfront reawakening

Next Monday, the City of Wisconsin Rapids will take another visible step forward toward revitalizing our Downtown Riverfront District: Contractor crews will begin work on Phase 1 of our River Bank Improvement Project.

Contractor crews will begin south of the Riverview Expressway and work their way north to downtown through the construction season. Completion of this phase of the overall riverbank improvement project is expected by September 28.

Work for the overall Riverbank Improvement Project primarily focuses on the East River Corridor, from Riverview Expressway to East Grand Avenue, and includes riverbank stabilization with rip rap, re-grading, and installation of a new kayak/canoe launch and shade structure in Demitz Park. An underbridge trail connection is being added so pedestrians and bicyclists may safely get between the north and south sides of the Riverview Expressway safely, as well as a trail along 2nd street from Mead Street north. Separately, a recreational trail will also get paved this summer along the 1st Street north corridor to Biron.

This first phase is part of our community’s overall vision to enhance and improve ways for residents, visitors and businesses to interact with public spaces along the Wisconsin River, our City’s most precious natural asset which began in 2013. Creating such a space is key to economic development: It is estimated that other Wisconsin communities that have enhanced their riverfront areas have seen an average of a $7 return on investment for every dollar put into such projects.

State of Wisconsin support for this Phase 1 East River Bank improvement comes from a grant of more than $700,000 from the State of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. We are proud that the State has expressed its confidence in our plans for growth, development and prosperity in the Downtown Waterfront District. A vibrant central place not only benefits Wisconsin Rapids residents and visitors, but the broader region as a whole.

Weekly updates for the East River Bank project will be posted online at the City website,, under Public Works. For more information, call 715-421-8205.

Spring yard waste collection begins soon – do your part to help

Public Works crews provide brush pickup the last week of each month May – October.

Spring has arrived – and with it, the desire to get a fresh start on our lawns and surrounding property. City of Wisconsin Rapids Streets Department workers will help residents get started, but they need your help to make their work as efficient as possible.

City crews begin with a week of yard waste pickup, scheduled for May 14-21. To prepare for this pickup, have your yard waste bagged at the curb in front of your residence.

Then, throughout the spring and running through the middle of autumn, the City will make regular runs to pick up brush and trees during the last full workweek of each month. Again, you can help workers get the most out of their efforts, by piling your brush in a neat and orderly fashion, limited to maximum size of 4 feet high, six feet wide and 10 feet long.

See the full brush pickup schedule for 2018, here.

Crews will make only one trip through City neighborhoods on designated collection days. So, remember to have your waste and/or brush out and ready to collect on the Sunday prior to the week of pick up.

For more information, contact the Public Works Street Department at 715-421-8218.

Thank you for reading.

Mayor Zach Vruwink



Community Update: Wisconsin Rapids and Biron Recreational Trail Link Closer to Reality



Wisconsin Rapids and Biron Recreational Trail Link Closer to Reality

Photo by Jesse Austin/WRCM – A view of the construction along 1st St. N.

During a special meeting held on July 20, members of the Biron Board voted 5-2 to approve an intergovernmental agreement to reimburse the City of Wisconsin Rapids up to the amount of $10,000 for design, construction and other costs associated with the 1st Street North-Biron Drive road and trail project. The entire trail connection is estimated to cost $65,000.

This decision makes possible the expansion of a recreational resource that links multiple communities, by tying into our existing trail system that connects to Grand Rapids, Port Edwards, Nekoosa and beyond.

Over the past three years or so, the Village of Biron has performed a reconstruction of South Biron Drive. During this time, Biron’s engineers reached out to Wisconsin Rapids leadership about a potential connection to the project that would tie into our current trail system. As City leaders, we took a holistic view of this project. By financially assisting Biron, we would create an asset that attracts thousands of residents and visitors each year, and add value to our Riverfront and Community Redevelopment efforts.

Officials from the City, the Village and the Regional Economic Growth Initiative met several times to discuss realignment and trail connection issues. We placed the trail on the Wisconsin River side to maximize the aesthetic pleasure of users, avoid a nuisance to property owners and alleviate snowplowing maintenance questions. As part of the street realignment, the road width was narrowed and on-street parking eliminated. This entire project has been conducted on existing right of way, so that no property had to be purchased.

Wisconsin Rapids construction crews have been engaged in utilities, pavement and asphalt work along 1st Street North, up to the north City limits. We could not, however, begin work beyond our corporate border with Biron without a cost-sharing agreement with the Village. At the July 18 Wisconsin Rapids Common Council meeting, City officials negotiated with our counterparts in Biron to find a solution that allows for a connection. These tough, yet civil, conversations led to the positive July 20 decision by the Biron Village Board.

I want to send out a special thanks to the residents along 1st Street North. These citizens have displayed so much patience during this uniquely challenging construction project. Their understanding and positive attitude have contributed to what promises to be a much appreciated recreational amenity.

For weekly updates from the Engineering Department in-regards to construction, please visit

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Supermass to present near-final preliminary riverfront designs at City Hall on Tuesday



Supermass to present near-final preliminary design at City Hall on Tuesday

1_Page_51The Wisconsin Rapids Riverfront design initiative reaches another exciting stage this week.  Our design consultant, Supermass Studio, will make its near-final preliminary design presentation to the Wisconsin Rapids Common Council on Tuesday, September 15, at 6:00 p.m. This phase of the design process comes at a timely juncture, as federal, state, community and foundation interests, along with individual citizens, have all taken an active role in advancing the present-day concept of Downtown riverfront redevelopment:

On August 19, U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin proposed the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act to support local efforts to revive waterfronts by funding grants and extending preferred status in other federal grants and loans;   

Veterans Event Terrace & River DeckOn August 31, Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and representatives of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation joined me, other local officials and representatives from Incourage Community Foundation to announce the awarding of a $472,000 grant to the City of Wisconsin Rapids to help fund the renovation of the Tribune building site. 

In keeping with the note of urgency area I struck in my State of the City Address regarding the fostering of a vibrant Downtown area, our strategic plan of action has been marked by the review and implementation of new and previously proposed development concepts; a groundswell of private investments; and City property sales transactions.

All in all, these initiatives and proposals reinforce our shared vision of a Downtown waterfront district that shines as a commercial-residential-recreation destination.  I personally invite you to attend Tuesday evening’s Common Council meeting to view the latest development in achieving this vision.

Thank you for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – Waterfront Design Presentation, Community Picnic, “Raft the Wisconsin,” and Northwoods League All-Star Game Recap



Waterfront Preliminary Design Presentation

I am again excited to invite residents to continue to guide the future of the Wisconsin Rapids waterfront, this Wednesday evening. That is when Supermass Studio design team-lead Taewook Cha presents the refined concepts for open spaces along the Wisconsin River. This event will take place Wednesday, August 5, at Veterans Memorial Park at 8:30 p.m. Bring a blanket or a chair!

The concepts that will be presented have been developed from feedback received on the initial concepts presented at Lunch by the River in early July. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A and feedback session.

Our goal is to further guide the preliminary design toward an outcome that will best serve the community at large. Please join us!

Aug 5 Evening Presentation Invite

Join your neighbors for the Community Picnic

Also returning this Wednesday evening is an outstanding tradition begun by Incourage Community Foundationcommunity picnic. That’s when the fourth annual Community Picnic takes place, from 4:30 to 8:00 p.m., adjacent to the Tribune Building, at the intersection of 1st Avenue S. and Johnson Street in Downtown Wisconsin Rapids. Residents of all ages can enjoy delicious food, live music – and a petting zoo!

It has been extremely gratifying to see this event grow and evolve each year. Even more heartening has been the donations of time, money and other forms of support by so many citizen-volunteers and local businesses making it truly a “community” picnic.

The Community Picnic provides a wonderful time for area residents to gather and enjoy being together in a celebration of our community. I look forward to seeing you there. 

“Raft the Wisconsin” Race

Join me for the first ever “Raft the Wisconsin” Race where I will be paddling and running with others this Saturday morning, August 8.

Beginning from the Tribune Building, individual competitors will paddle a raft across to the east side of the river, and finish by running the rest of the distance to the Witter Field. Winners will be recognized on-field prior to the Rafters game that evening. The race begins at 10:00 a.m.

Rosco-Rafting-There is a $10 entry fee. which includes a raft and paddles for the race, a Rafters hat, a ticket to that evening’s Rafters game, a guaranteed Rosco Rafting Bobblehead and post-race snacks at the stadium.

Please join me Saturday morning to participate in this fun event! You can register by emailing 

Kudos to an All-Star-caliber community

All-Star-Game-2011-250x187On Tuesday, July 21, Wisconsin Rapids hosted the Northwoods League All-Star Game at Witter Field. It was another memorable and festive occasion, highlighted by a free-swinging Home Run Challenge, an exciting nine innings of high-level collegiate-star baseball and the energy generated by a stadium- capacity turnout. The selection of our City to host this event for the second time all-star-logo_finalin just the past few years is a tribute to the outstanding job done by the management and staff of the Wisconsin Rapids Rafters baseball organization, City partnership and sponsors; the outpouring of support our community of enthusiastic and knowledgeable fans has displayed for our local team; and the warm and cordial reception our residents extend to the many visitors who attend these events. Congratulations to our community for again hitting a home run in hosting another successful All Star Game!

Mayor Zach Vruwink


Community Update – Riverbank Preliminary Designs



Riverbank Project Preview at Lunch by the River

Last Thursday, attendees to Lunch by the River had the great and fun opportunity to view several preliminary designs for our riverbank open spaces, as presented by Supermass Studio, the City’s riverfront design consultant.

The displays included the overall programming and planning framework of the riverbank park Supermassareas between Wisconsin Rapids dam and Riverview Expressway; as well as more detailed conceptual designs of Legion Park, Mead Rapids View Park, Veterans Memorial Park, and the west riverbank south of the Grand Avenue bridge area. Supermass representatives were on hand to offer project updates take your feedback and answer your questions. My favorite, the ‘Performance Knoll’ at Legion park where larger concerts could be held throughout the summer. It is also neat to see an alternative to that concept, a take on the city’s first swimming pool! The hammock grove was unique and could be a fun addition to our riverfront space!

You can view all the design boards here.  We are also welcoming your feedback! Comment below, on Facebook or by contacting myself or Planning & Economic Development Director Adam Tegen.

Thanks for reading,

Mayor Zach Vruwink