Sunday, September 23, 2018

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Northeast side to get trail, park

City, developer sign deal after neighbors’ outcry

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A neighborhood on Eau Claire’s northeast side is slated to get a nature trail and a future park as part of an agreement to allow 27 new homes there.

The City Council voted 10-0 Tuesday evening to approve the latest addition to residential developer Haselwander Brothers’ Independence Park housing subdivision, including the public amenities neighbors had fought for.

“They made all the difference,” Councilwoman Kate Beaton said of neighbors in the Princeton Valley area who demanded the trail and parks be included.

After their protests at Plan Commission and City Council meetings last month led to postponement of approvals needed for the 27 new residential lots, city staff and the developer met in recent weeks to see what could be done.

“It really is a testament to what really gets the attention of the city and how quickly staff can get stuff done,” Councilman Jeremy Gragert said.

An 8-foot-wide grass trail, which will be mowed regularly, will wind behind backyards of the new homes that will be built on the north side of LaSalle Street, between Gooder Street and East Princeton Avenue. On the other side of the trail will be a large pond where storm water will collect. 

Haselwander Brothers, which also owns the neighboring Princeton Valley Golf Course, will take care of the construction, landscaping and mowing of the trail. The city will contribute up to $15,000 toward building the trail.

“Once the agreement is signed, there’s a two-year window to finish construction,” deputy city engineer John Genskow said.

The trail would continue west from the new housing and wind behind existing yards on land Haselwander owns. The trail would ultimately lead to 1.13 acres of vacant land along West Princeton Avenue, which the developer is donating to the city as part of the agreement.

That vacant land is set aside to become a small neighborhood park, likely including a playground for children.

City attorney Stephen Nick said creating that park would be the city’s responsibility and, as of Tuesday, it was not yet included in a budget.

“Actually funding the improvements will be a financial decision for the city to make,” he told the City Council.

Several council members thanked the neighbors, developer and city staff for coming to an agreement that appeared to satisfy all sides. Acting council President Andrew Werthmann also remarked about the long-term benefits the public will see from the pact.

“We’re voting on this today, but it could be over the next 50 years that kids are playing on a playground and people who move in there are able to walk their dogs along that trail,” he said.

Other business

Also during Tuesday’s City Council meeting:

• The speed limit on Harding Avenue — which is currently under reconstruction — will be lowered from 35 mph to 30 mph when it reopens, the council decided in a 10-0 vote.

• Nearly $28.5 million in borrowing was authorized by the council to pay for projects the city has already approved and undertaken for this year, along with refinancing on old debt to lower interest payments.

• Changes to parking restrictions on Fulton, Congress and Union streets and Sixth Avenue south of Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire were approved by the council. New signs for two-hour parking limits will be installed before the start of the school year.

• The council postponed a decision on parking restrictions requested by Briggs Avenue homeowners until mid-October. The delay is to allow the city to work out details of a potential alternative parking arrangement for employee vehicles from nearby B&B Electric that have frequently been parking on Briggs.

Contact: 715-833-9204,, @ADowd_LT on Twitter

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