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Thomas Street and Silence

by on February 20th, 2013

In the past two days 4 people (two elected people) have asked for my opinion on the Thomas Street idea.  I ran into a wall with my answers today.  I tend to give the same answer for questions like this, and for the most part, it is a fine answer, but I realized today that it just simply does not work.  It does not work because I do not know what the Thomas Street idea is.

I know where Thomas Street is.  I have driven and walked on Thomas Street.  When I was a boy I trust that I rode both my bike and my skateboard on Thomas Street.  I know where Thomas Street is.

I have read the coverage about Thomas Street.  I read that there was a Grant applied for, or not applied for, because of a failure by the city to do something or the city did something improperly.  I did not read who did something improperly, or who failed to do something properly which caused us to not be allowed to apply for or receive a grant for the millions of dollars that the city wanted for the properties.  I read what the people who live on Thomas Street have to say about the City buying or not buying their homes.

I think I might not be all that clear as to what I am getting at here.  Let me spell it out for you…

I HAVE NO IDEA WHAT IS GOING ON WITH THOMAS STREET.

Here is what I know.  The whole above grant thing happened.  No one was responsible, no one got fired, there is no mention of discipline of anyone in any minutes on the city website (though I am not sure that it would go there).

Now, it is reported that the City wants to spend roughly 15 million dollars to do something with Thomas Street.  Something is intentional.

I spent some time lass night and this morning looking at the City of Wausau website for the plans for Thomas Street.  Or the intended plans.  I could not find any.

I did a search of publications and found no plans for the Thomas Street development.

I went to Jim Rosenberg’s blog and found the TIF plan for the City of Wausau, and this was the first time I had seen this.  I went back and tried to find it on the City of Wausau website, and had no luck.  How is that…oh that is another blog post entirely.

So, the question is what do I think of the Thomas Street idea.  My honest answer is, yeah, let’s do this.  No wait, let’s not.  Yeah, this is really good for the city.  Wait, this is a lot of money to spend.

Look, I have no idea what I think about the Thomas Street development.  Would you like to know why?  Because no one has shown me what the Thomas Street development is.

I think that they want to widen Thomas street to like 4 lanes.  Okay.  Can someone tell me why they want to do that?  Isn’t there a bridge on Thomas Street? Do we get a new 4 lane bridge?  Where do we want to widen Thomas Street?  Isn’t the fire station on Thomas Street? Would we have to knock that down and build a new one?  Where would the dalmation stay then?

Has there been a public outcry to make a 4 lane road (if that is even what the plan is) on Thomas Street?  Are there businesses lined up wanting to spend money to develop on Thomas Street?  I do not know.

You know why?  The City of Wausau has not communicated that to the public.  In looking for this information I found the printed material from the Wausau Daily Herald, and the news coverage of the one Mayor Tipple statement regarding this.  I have only been able to find Mayor Jim Tipple speaking about the 15 million dollar project one time.  15 million bucks equals one comment.  I can just keep typing that for effect.

So, I do support the development of Thomas Street?  I support development in general.  I support a municipality making a choice, investing its money in its community, and these investments paying dividends.  I am not a pay-me-now dividend sort of fellow.  I do not mind the idea of improvement not having an admission price.

I support the development of Thomas Street just that far, and that is not very far at all.

Because I do not support the development of Thomas Street at all.  I do not support the spending of 15 million dollars (or thereabouts) on something without a plan, without private funds being involved, and really WITHOUT A COMMUNICATED-TO-THE-PUBLIC PLAN.  I do not support spending 15 million dollars without a plan communicated by the leader of this City.

Let me put together a little contrast for you.  I live in the Village of Weston.  The Village and the bus thing.  The Village faced a situation where it was going to need to spend – let us just say – 100 grand for the bus line.  I am sure that number is not right, but let’s work with it for discussion.  Village Administrator Daniel Guild and Village President Fred Schuster had a series of public meetings in which they presented the plan to the people who attended.  They made a case for what they were doing and why they were doing it.

And that was 100 grand.

The Thomas Street project is going to cost 15 million dollars, and I can find only one comment from Jim Tipple about it.  Weston, at least 4 meetings for 100 grand.  Wausau, one comment for 15 million dollars.

You know I can easily fall back into the whole “The City does not communicate” meme pretty easily.  But, I was asked a direct question, what do you think about the Thomas Street project?

Directly, I have no idea.

Do you?

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