A plan for the historic neighborhood that borders UW-Eau Claire is headed to a City Council vote today after residents and the university came to some compromises.
If approved at today’s 4 p.m. meeting, the new 3rd Ward Neighborhood plan would become part of the city’s comprehensive plan, which helps guide decisions of city officials.
Ned Noel, associate city planner, noted several issues addressed by the plan relate to the neighborhood being next to UW-Eau Claire’s campus. Topping the list of neighborhood concerns is on-street parking congestion, which is prevalent when classes are in session.
“It’s been a chronic issue for the last 40 years,” Noel said. “Everyone agreed that the parking solution needs to be looked at comprehensively.”
The plan calls for increased parking enforcement and considering the possibility of meters or a permit system for parking along 3rd Ward streets.
The neighborhood is opposed to the university buying up homes to make room for more surface parking lots.
The plan mentions a university proposal to expand its existing parking lot next to Hibbard Hall but acknowledges that is strongly opposed by the neighborhood association. The city is aware of that proposal to add 80 stalls to the lot by using adjacent land owned by the university, Noel said, but it has not been formally submitted for approval.
Instead, the neighborhood plan suggests that the university, potentially in partnership with the city, consider building a parking ramp without expanding campus borders.
One of the compromises struck between UW-Eau Claire and neighbors had to do with limiting campus growth to preserve homes.
An earlier draft of the plan put a hard cap on campus expansion, specifying that the university not grow any more in the neighborhood.
The university objected to this and some other passages last fall.
University officials and neighborhood members met in October, agreeing to a compromise that discourages campus growth “that would result in the unnecessary loss” of additional 3rd Ward dwellings.
Troy Terhark, the university’s director of facilities, said Monday night to the City Council that the new version of the plan has UW-Eau Claire’s support.
Kevin Rosenberg, chairman of the 3rd Ward Neighborhood Association, also spoke in support of the plan and celebrating the end of more than two years of work on it.
Work began in fall 2017 to update the neighborhood’s previous plan from 2001. An online survey sent to all residents there — homeowners and renters alike — was taken by 263 people to get their opinions on neighborhood issues, Noel said. City officials also attended neighborhood association meetings and informal coffee shop chats to solicit ideas for the plan, he added.
The wide-ranging document includes history, statistics and other information on the neighborhood. Policies included in the document also seek to improve the area’s housing stock, encourage homeownership, preserve historic architecture, enhance public parks and prevent crime.
Also during Monday night’s City Council meeting:
• A public hearing addressed details of a proposed ordinance to require residents to replace lead water pipes that connect their homes to the municipal water system. Homeowners would be mandated to make the change when the city replaces its old water mains along their street or a water main bursts nearby. There is a program already in place to reimburse homeowners up to $2,000 of their costs for replacing lead pipes, which the city intends to continue. The new ordinance is scheduled for a vote today.
• Four residents of the town of Seymour spoke to the City Council on Monday night to urge consideration for residents who live near Seven Mile Creek Landfill during negotiations with Advanced Disposal. The company is seeking an expansion of the landfill, which is under negotiations with a committee that includes some representatives from Eau Claire. The Seven Mile Creek Landfill Siting Committee will be holding an open house meeting at 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 at Seymour Town Hall, 6500 Tower Drive.