By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — The process to acquire real estate along Thomas Street from Fourth Avenue to the Wisconsin River could kick off as early as February, according to city documents.

Members of the finance committee on Tuesday will review a request to spend more than $165,000 on real estate acquisition services from MSA, the same firm that handled acquisitions for the first phase of the Thomas Street project. (See the full compensation chart and proposed  schedule, embedded below.)

Typically, the city accepts bids for services greater than $25,000, but staff is recommending a sole source agreement with MSA in part because the acquisition and relocation along the Thomas Street corridor is the second phase of a continuing project, according to the city’s purchase justification form.

MSA’s proposal, uploaded late this week to the finance committee’s packet, calls for a team of 10 people to handle the negotiations for the city. Those representatives would work to fully acquire up to 15 residential properties and three commercial properties along the corridor. They will also negotiate with the owners of eight residential properties and up to seven commercial parcels for a strip of their land to accommodate the reconstruction plan.

The eminent domain process can be stopped only if the proposed taking does not meet the requirements for public necessity or public purpose, according to legal documents. If these tests are met, the government cannot be stopped from taking either residential or commercial property, but the government cannot dictate the price it will pay, either.

According to a proposed schedule for real estate acquisitions, introduction letters are expected to be sent to all affected landowners in mid-February, with an invitation to a property owner involvement meeting. The relocation plan and appraisal inspection would begin Feb. 26, and appraisals would be ready for city council review by mid-August.Pages from FINC_20171212_Packet

3 replies on “City docs: Thomas Street real estate acquisition to begin in February”

  1. [Members of the finance committee on Tuesday will review a request to spend more than $165,000 on real estate acquisition services from MSA, the same firm that handled acquisitions for the first phase of the Thomas Street project.]
    .
    An important $$ number to calculate/know is how much tax revenue will be lost by removing them from the city tax roles. That’s the number that sank the “Grand Avenue Alternate” project. Residential real estate puts more money into the city treasury than commercial property and roadways do. It is that number – projected over multiple years that city project planners seem to never want to calculate or discuss publicly. It would also be interesting to know how much of the of the municiipal surface area of Wausau is now devoted to motor vehicles (roadways and parking)?

  2. Aside from the inexcusable, significant loss of tax revenue from property taxes on the portion of the Thomas Street project just completed, and the loss that will happen if the current proposal is continued, is the visual aspect and esthetics.

    Take a drive from the river to the bend near the old Crestline Street – the view and feel of that portion of Thomas Street is what “old” Wausau is known for: big, old trees (mostly maples) that are a beautiful, light green in the spring, to leafy, shady vistas during the summertime, to beautiful, blazing colors in the fall. That will be gone, FOREVER, if this poorly thought out plan continues forth. The newly finished west Thomas Street looks like a road you’d see in Skokie, Illinois!

    One of the best things about Wausau is its bucolic street vistas, and if this continued plan for Thomas Street goes forth not only will Council continue its unconscionable actions of increasing the permanent debt load of taxpayers, it will continue its destruction of part of what makes Wausau beautiful.

    If only Council would realize it doesn’t have a blank check from the taxpayers whose interests they have taken an oath is to protect, not indebt.

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