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Construction begins Monday on Riverfront Park

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By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — A portion of North River Drive and the river edge trail will be closed beginning next week as work begins on the city’s new Riverlife Park, according to city officials.

Work will be from the north side of Wausau on the Water, or WOW, extending north of the Bridge Street Bridge. The site will closed and fenced to allow for work to be completed.

Bicycle and pedestrian traffic along the river edge trail will be rerouted to North River Drive around the construction area, then back to the river edge trail. This section of North River Drive will be closed to vehicular traffic.

During this phase of construction, WOW will only be accessible from the south. Visitors from the north should take Third Street south to Fulton Street to North River Drive.

Wausau Chemical and Wausau Waterworks will only be accessible from the north.

Signs will be installed Monday, May 21, when the closure is expected to begin.

Riverlife Park is one of the key elements in the city’s ongoing effort to transform the once-barren landscape along the Wisconsin River. The park is planned for a roughly one-acre parcel between Wausau on the Water Family Entertainment Center and the Bridge Street bridge. The project, which has been awarded to Miron Construction, was bid out in late summer 2017.

All amenities will be located steps from the river, along the riverfront trail.

The total project is expected to cost roughly $4.7 million, about $4.3 million of which was borrowed in 2016. The city also has secured $502,450 in grants and donations to offset the cost of the park.


  1. As an Uncle, I am super excited about this. Thank you to the Parks crew getting this on track, and thanks to the City of Wausau for doing this.

  2. So basically, $4.2 MILLION taxpayer dollars for a freaking park. Depending on what news source you read, $2.5 – $5 MILLION dollars of unpaid work on the “RiverLife” project. That’s $7-10 million dollars of taxpayer (borrowed) money, total. Yet, we have city streets that have more potholes than a slice of Swiss cheese. Once again, a BIG thanks to our bug spraying mayor and his merry band of spending other people’s money city council. But hey, that artists rendition of the life sized chess game sure looks spiffy, doesn’t it?

    • No, it’s absolute, ridiculous waste of taxpayer/borrowed funds. I’m beginning to get tired of thinking/typing/worrying about this crap though. For the simple reason that it will NOT stop. Mielke and the entire city council are out of control and have ZERO accountability, other than the voters (some of them anyways). They will do whatever THEY want to do with money that isn’t theirs and absolutely pilfer it without thinking twice. All while accumulating more debt for the city. I hope that $4+ million dollar park (that’ll actually be used maybe 6 months out of the year) will be enjoyed by the 2-300 people who will probably sit in it on a regular basis. Then again, the drunks have been run out of the 400 block, so they need someplace new to hang, right?

      • Have you seen how projects that change an area along a river or create a bike path and walking area change an area… it is wonderful… I have it it works… people use the running and walking paths year round, not me, but many do!

      • I like the way they say they have to scale back after they win an award for the park. Which they should but they should also lose the award. That’s what this whole thing is about, looking like a big shot.

      • Call 1911,

        It would be easier to understand your anger if you could articulate your expectations of what you feel the city should do with the taxpayers money. Do you feel thst they are only responsible for public safety (police & fire protection) maintaining the roads, including snow plowing, and that’s it. No parks, no swimming pools no walking paths or other amenities that the average citizen can enjoy.

        I certainly do not endorse wasting tax money and the city has proven they can do that without breaking a sweat. However, I do endorse making improvements that are available to all citizens. But I will give you the fact that the giant chess board is somewhat stupid as the chess pieces will certainly end up in the river in short order.

        So let’s hear your take on what the city should be doing for its citizens.

  3. Stan…. I can’t figure out why sometimes there isn’t a “reply” button for certain posts/messages. Anyhoo….
    FIRST and foremost, I can’t understand why the city of Wausau has become a real estate company, planner, contractor and in turn, lien holder for unpaid services provided by sub-contractors. Okay, so the city should “manage” its property. Fine, I’m all for that, but how many UNUSED parks to we have within the city limits? Quite a few. Yet, we “need” to spend upward of $4 MILLION dollars on a one freaking acre parcel that has a ridiculous life-size chess board, some exercise equipment and what looks to be basically a putting green?
    Secondly, the amount of debt/loans this city has taken on in the last 5-10 yrs. is simply out of control. All seeming to be for these real estate ventures, moving long established businesses and paying them millions to do so. Everyone talks about how important it is for city owned property to be put back on the “tax roll”. How exactly spending $4 million on a park does that is evidently above my pay grade. I’m all for someone explaining it to me. Of course the city should create and maintain parks, pools, walking paths, etc., but the outrageous costs for this specific park is just nonsense.
    Lastly, I mentioned in a previous post that there are many….MANY city streets in horrible condition. Streets that I travel on a pretty much daily basis. I certainly don’t expect every city street to be in pristine condition, especially with snow plows tearing them up many months out of the year, but I don’t think anyone who travels within the city on a regular basis would declare out streets to be in good to excellent condition. They’re simply not and some are honestly embarrassments.
    I hope that somewhat clarifies my position.

  4. “A more highly programmed, designed and maintained park in Minneapolis may cost $6,000,000 to $8,000,000 per acre to develop and $500,000 to $700,000 to operate, while a park with fewer features and programming may cost $1,000,000 to $3,000,000 to develop and $200,000 to $400,000 to operate. These estimates do not include land acquisition costs.”

Care to weigh in?

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