Stevens Point approves $16,000 for additional Business 51 meeting – Stevens Point Journal

STEVENS POINT – The city will hold one additional public meeting to discuss redevelopment of Business 51 with the project’s engineering firm at a cost to taxpayers of more than $16,000.
The Board of Public Works voted Monday to amend its contract with AECOM to pay an additional $16,183 for three non-local representatives to attend the meeting at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6 at Stevens Point Area Senior High.
The funding must still be approved by the City Council at its next meeting.
Mayor Mike Wiza will also work to have a representative from the Department of Transportation at the meeting, he said.
“This is one final opportunity for people to get their questions heard,” Wiza said.
Wiza said last month the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the Business 51 road redesign, its effects and possible alternatives. It will give residents the ability to learn about their options and give input as to what they want.
This meeting will also allow AECOM to present the changes that have been made after officials met with over 60 different property owners and discussed their concerns and ideas.
Several board members questioned the high price tag of the meeting. Wiza said the initial quote was close to double the amount being paid. He said the money will fund the three AECOM representatives, each with a different specialty, along with the prepared meeting materials.
“It’s a miniscule amount to pay to try and get a good product in the end,” Wiza said.
AECOM will also design a postcard that will go out to 9,600 property addresses inviting them to the event. The city will pay an additional $6,000 to have it printed and mailed.
“I’m still appalled,” Council member Mary Kneebone said of the cost. “But if this will help bring a consensus, it’s worth it.”
The city has proposed spending about $48.5 million on rebuilding Business 51, which would include property acquisitions, adding bike lanes, a roundabout and reducing travel lanes from two in each direction to one while adding a middle left-turn lane in some portions of the road. 
The city and AECOM held public listening and outreach sessions on the project for two years, including small focus groups to work through road designs. Supporters of the project believe the proposed plans for the road will make the area more accommodating for pedestrians, bicyclists and other users of the road while not negatively affecting businesses.
Opponents of the project say current plans for Business 51 would have a negative effect on their businesses and that city leaders dismissed their concerns. Southside business owners put forth a referendum that would require all city transportation projects that would cost taxpayers over $1 million to go to a public vote, saying it was a way to hold the city accountable. The referendum passed Aug. 9 by a razor-thin margin of 31 votes.
They city recently approved four road project referendums, not related to the Business 51 project, to go before voters in November.
MORE NEWS:  Stevens Point will ask voters to approve $10M in road projects during Nov. 8 election
MORE NEWS:  $1.47M state grant will fund pedestrian bridge and trail crossing over Plover River in Stevens Point
Contact USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin reporter Jennifer Poyer at [email protected].


Leave a Comment