Sunday, October 21, 2018

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Eau Claire City Council debates meeting in county courthouse

Reconstruction ofCity Hall driving need to find alternative site for about a year

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    City Hall in Eau Claire on August 5, 2016. Staff Photo by Dan Reiland

    Dan Reiland

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    File photo

  • Beaton-Kate-041916

While Eau Claire City Council members mostly supported relocating city staff  to a site on the northwest side of town in July as City Hall undergoes renovations, most wanted council meetings to be held somewhere downtown.

The Eau Claire City Council spoke in favor of staff’s recommendation to send 90 staff members, currently housed at City Hall on South Farwell Street, to the former 3M site near Gateway Industrial Park.

Staff would be in that location for about a year as City Hall is renovated for better security, historical restoration, modern office space and new heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems.

But some said that site isn’t conducive to hosting council meetings because it’s a few miles from downtown and not on a city bus route.

“The 3M site doesn’t have bus lines, and it’s less accessible in terms of those bicycling and walking,” Councilman Andrew Werthmann said. “I think that’s important.”

Other council members agreed with him, saying the board room at the Eau Claire County Courthouse would be a good alternative, despite having a different layout to better accommodate its 29 board supervisors.

“Though the County Board room isn’t set up the same way, for a year gaining that accessibility is something that’s more important to me,” Councilwoman Kate Beaton said. 

Both Councilmen Dave Strobel and Terry Weld disliked the idea of hosting meetings at the courthouse. Weld favored the 3M site as the one recommended by staff, noting it was chosen in part because it could accommodate a temporary council chamber. 

“Public hearings encompass the entire city,” Weld said, saying some people live at the far reaches of the city and downtown isn’t always an easy place for them to get to. “There’s give and take.”

Council members eventually agreed to postpone the decision on moving staff for two weeks. City staff will use that time to investigate other options for hosting City Council meetings downtown.

Because the council expressed being OK with council meetings being held apart from where city staff is located, Councilman Dave Strobel said those two weeks could also give city staff more time to see if there’s a less expensive option for city staff to move to downtown instead of the 3M building.

Rent of that space for a year would cost about $260,000.

In other news

• The city entered into an agreement with ECHL, which operates as The Lismore, for two signs to be placed on the parking complex on S. Farwell St. in downtown Eau Claire. 

The signs will replace the current Civic Center sign with one that says Public Parking and another underneath it that advertises The Lismore. 

The city will pay for electrical upgrades to support the signs and the cost to run them. The monthly costs to the city for the LED signs are $15 for The Lismore sign and $18 for the Public Parking sign.

In exchange for the city covering the cost of the signs, ECHL will perform light maintenance and cleaning duties on and near the elevators in the parking ramp and hotel.

Contact: 715-833-9206,, @EDohms_LT on Twitter

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