By Owen Reissmann for Wausau Pilot and Review

Tuesday’s meeting of Wausau’s Economic Development committee included discussions on riverlife developments, environmental testing on a former industrial site on the city’s west side and an ongoing marketing campaign to promote civic pride.

Wausau Community and Economic Development’s “Wausome Stories” represents a city-pride online presence that has seen a notable amount of Facebook interaction. A representative of the project gave a short presentation at Tuesday’s Economic Development meeting. She shared some impressive analytics and presented future ideas for the project like creating professionally-produced videos to promote the “Wausome” brand. The committee voted in support of looking to further fund the project.

Next, two proposals were brought forward. The first involved building a residential unit in the Riverlife area south of Fulton St. A representative, Dave Johnson, shared that the revised plan is for a 12-unit building with two residential levels and underground parking, at 22,500 square feet.

The second proposal was made by Briq’s Soft Serve regarding a riverfront concession building. Kevin Briquelet Miller mentioned plans to work with other local vendors to create some fun events on the water. Committee member Lisa Rasmussen recalled when the committee worked with Briq’s on the move and remodel of the Merrill Avenue location. She referred to that exchange as a true success story. She also commented on how Briq’s already has great brand recognition and a significant following in the area, which makes the current proposal an exciting idea.

The next discussion centered on potential redevelopment of a city-owned property on Thomas Street, the former Connor Forest Industries site. Citizen Tom Kilian requested that thorough Phase One testing be performed on a property the city acquired before it be considered for any form of residential use. He said there was controversy over this property back in the 1980s and the Citizens for a Clean Wausau group has acquired many documents indicating the property is a potential health concern.

City Council President Lisa Rasmussen suggested the committee find out all they can about such sites right away, especially given Mr. Kilian’s findings. Even if the city is indemnified for liability, public health interest deems we should know more, she says.

Economic Developer Christian Schock disagreed, however, arguing that the city does not need to seek Phase One testing until or unless residential proposals come in, since such testing would not necessarily be needed for industrial development. The committee agreed with Rasmussen’s thoughts and chose to have a Phase One analysis performed right away anyway.