By Shereen Siewert
WAUSAU — City leaders will hold a public information meeting next week to discuss plans to redesign a second portion of Thomas Street.
The open house-style meeting will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wed., Nov. 29 in the council chambers at Wausau City Hall, with a brief presentation set for 6 p.m.
The meeting is expected to be heavily attended by residents opposed to the redesign plan, which calls for the city to acquire more than $1.2 million in taxable property to allow for bicycle and turn lanes. The first phase of the project, from Fourth Avenue to 17th Avenue, was completed this month.
City leaders say the project is necessary to ease traffic safety concerns along the corridor.
The Citizens for an Environmentally Safe Thomas Street Neighborhood in October hired Milwaukee attorney Ted Warpinski amid concerns over potential soil and groundwater contamination due to decades of manufacturing activities in the area east of Fourth Avenue.
Warpinski is an attorney with Friebert, Finerty, & St. John, the same firm that represented more than 140 Wausau residents in a 2008 lawsuit against Wauleco, a subsidiary of Sentry Insurance. Wauleco is the current owner of the property, which is the alleged main source of contamination in the area. That property runs along a portion of the targeted project zone.
Results from six soil samples taken in August along the Thomas Street corridor all contain dioxin and furan compounds, though at levels below state recommended limits, according to city documents. But Warpinski, in an October letter to city officials, claims those tests were inadequate and were never likely to reveal contaminants of concern.
In addition to city representatives, a design consultant from engineering firm AECOM will be present at next week’s meeting to discuss the overall project design and answer questions related to the layout. Forms will be available at the meeting to submit written comments, according to a city notice sent to residents in the Thomas Street neighborhood.
All comments and input from the meeting will be presented to the capital improvements and street maintenance committee on Dec. 6 and will then be presented to the full council on Dec. 12.