Before buying land for a future city park on Eau Claire’s upper west side, the City Council assured neighbors in that area that they will have a say in what goes there.
Neighborhood residents voiced concerns late Monday night to the council about what could replace the bucolic wooded area they enjoy near their homes.
“At this point in time it’s an urban forest,” said Councilwoman Jill Christopherson, who represents the city’s west side.
She noted that residents were anxious that the park would mean the end of the natural habitat there, which has trees, prairie plants, birds and other animals.
While they weren’t averse to the area becoming a park, she noted they did want a say in what will go there.
“They’re very interested in being included in the planning process,” Christopherson said.
She pushed an amendment requiring the city to seek input from west side neighborhood associations, families that attend nearby Roosevelt Elementary School and users of the recreation trail that passes through the future park land.
Community services director Jeff Pippenger noted that acquiring land is the first step toward a park at that site, but the city is still years away from planning and funding one.
“We’re several years away from that, I would say five years out before we start the planning process,” he said.
When the city does get there, Pippenger said it will consult with neighbors and others when planning the park, as it usually does when making a new park.
“That’s our normal process to bring in the public to get their input,” he said.
Though it would reiterate that standard procedure, council members voted 8-0 — councilmen Michael Xiong and David Strobel were absent — in favor of Christoperson’s amendment to assure neighbors.
Councilwoman Kate Beaton thanked neighbors for attending Monday night’s meeting and raising their concerns. A 3rd Ward neighborhood resident herself, Beaton said she often walks on the trail in Putnam Park — a large natural area — and enjoys having that undeveloped area in Eau Claire.
“I can definitely relate to preserving the interest of this urban, natural forest,” she said.
The City Council voted 8-0 Tuesday to buy the 3.8 acres of vacant, wooded land on the south side of Folsom Street, across from Roosevelt Elementary School. The city is buying the property from owner Wayne Peters for $285,000, according to documents provided to the council.
When built, the future park would replace an existing park next to the nearby elementary school so the school district could use that land for building expansion.
Also during Tuesday’s council meeting:
• Contracts for $508,630 in finishing touches to Eau Claire’s City Hall remodeling project were approved by an 8-0 City Council vote. That yearlong interior renovation project is slated to finish before Labor Day.
• Several acres of excess city-owned land southeast of the intersection of Birch and Galloway streets will be sold to JCap Property Management for $520,000. The Eau Claire company plans to build 70 to 90 apartments on that site, which it estimates will be worth $9.6 million.
• Excess city land around Fire Station No. 10, 820 Malden Ave., will be put up for sale, presumably for new multi-family housing.
• Beer and wine licenses were granted to two restaurants planned in Eau Claire: Silly Serrano Mexican Restaurant, 329 Riverfront Terrace (formerly home to Smiling Moose Deli), and Akame Sushi, 4056 Commonwealth Ave. (previously a Mancino’s Grinders & Pizza).
• Festival Foods was granted extensions to its alcohol licenses to its stores at 3007 Mall Drive and 2615 N. Clairemont Ave., allowing it to pursue plans for curbside grocery pickup service at those locations.
• A city-owned downtown parking lot along the Eau Claire River was declared excess property in a 8-0 council vote. This allows the city to make the Railroad Street parking lot available for private development.
• Tuesday’s council meeting was still in progress during an early deadline the Leader-Telegram put in place to improve newspaper delivery given the poor road conditions created by a snowstorm.