Citizen Wausau

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A River Runs Through Us

by on October 31st, 2007

There’s something I’ve always been interested in since moving to Wausau. It’s our big old river. Yes, I understand the history of logging and mills and industry hugging the banks and as a result most of the venerable stream meanders through our fair city without engaging us overly much.

There are Oak and Fern Islands, Gilbert and Memorial Parks, another couple of seldom-used parks on the west bank, the sometimes kayaking run of whitewater, and some stretches of “riverwalk” paths. But for the most part, there’s scrub and old warehouses, a cement company, some sort of hardware wholesaler and other businesses, fenced-off no-man’s land, etc. No news to any of our residents. I have heard some ideas and proposals for this and that project, but nothing so far that I’d say represents a grand vision for incorporating the river into our culture and identity in a big way. I just think of the communities I’ve been in where their river weaves its way through the very heart of the local identity, with long stretches of riverside roads and parks, cafes, promenades, amenities and all that. What great use of a natural resource for everyone’s benefit.

So, here in Wausau … How about more reclamation and beautification projects, more public access, more visual access, boat/canoe/kayak rentals, fishing docks, a riverside cultural and entertainment corridor, interesting lighting of bridges and shorelines, etc.?

Well, I don’t expect any of our CW contributors to come forward with said grand vision for the whole river, but maybe someone here and someone there can offer things like, “I know of a stretch over by wherever that might be available for public access if it’s cleaned up.” or “My uncle owns a parcel that he wants to sell cheap.” or “I am fabulously wealthy and I want to contribute to a huge river project.” Hope springs eternal, eh? But ideas flow like a river; let’s open the dam and see what drifts by.

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