By Shereen Siewert

WAUSAU — Members of a Wausau committee on Tuesday earmarked 10 capital improvement projects for 2019, but some residents say they are unhappy with a lack of advance notice about the specific projects discussed.

Council packets, by Wausau’s own rules, must be posted publicly six days before a scheduled meeting. The deadline can and is often waived by the mayor if there is good cause for the delay. In this instance, the packet was posted less than three hours prior to the meeting.

Dino Corvino said that although he lives in Weston, he has long been an advocate for a Wausau dog park and was disappointed the park did not make the cut for projects in 2019.

“I am disappointed that the city didn’t put the packet up until just before the meeting,” Corvino said. “It took away the dog park’s advocates’ ability to call people in advance or make a presentation.”

David Oberbeck, who served on the Wausau City Council for six years, said there is a difference between a council meeting and a committee meeting, which is what took place on Tuesday.

“However, the intent is to have all information available as soon as possible so that committee members have a chance to review and ask questions of staff,” he said. “It also allows staff to research answers to the committee members questions prior to the meeting.”

The city’s cost estimate for the dog park is $148,000, an amount that would be offset by $35,000 in donations, according to the packet. Corvino said he believes the dog park could be constructed for far less using fewer amenities to start and actively seeking additional donations.

“Many communities smaller than Wausau have dog parks and Wausau is big enough to support one,” Corvino said. “It’s a quality of life issue. A lot of people worked hard on this plan and it is disappointing they were not given a voice.”

“In the future, I hope there is greater transparency so we can have true civic engagement,” he added.

The projects that did get the nod:

  • OSHA fixed ladder system for the Dept. of Public Works: $35,000
  • Automatic Surface Observation System equipment at the Wausau downtown airport, to be supplemented by a $144,000 FAA grant: $36,000
  • Airport tow tractor, which will not incur any debt as the purchase will be made through motor pool funds: $85,000
  • Portable police radios: $47,000
  • Fire department gear: $51,600
  • Fire department air cart: $23,106
  • Jet A fuel upgrades for the airport to allow the city to sell fuel to medical helicopters: $180,000
  • Playground equipment: $75,000
  • Evidence storage facility: $203,500
  • Orto-Imagery and LiDAR for the Dept. of Public Works: $30,000

The decisions are not final and are subject to review by both the finance committee and the full council. Even projects that are not given final approval will be revisited near the end of 2019.