By Alyssa Frierson and Shereen Siewert
A Hwy. 52 Parkway landscaping project will soon be underway in Wausau, but city residents shouldn’t expect another bird art controversy in the process.
The Wausau Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee on Thursday discussed plans for landscaping along the parkway, with 90 percent of engineering plans already in place.
Landscaping elements are the only aspects being considered at this time, which aim to complement the eastern half of the highway. The planned landscaping will be natural, city officials said, which means no public art bid is currently being considered.
Wausau officials came under fire in 2014 when a portion of the corridor was landscaped, a $112,000 project that included a $48,000 bird art component, after a Wausau Daily Herald report revealed the city broke multiple state laws by paying seven companies to complete the project without allowing for a competitive bidding process.
Landscape architects with Ayres Associates are developing the current landscaping plan for the 52 Parkway west of I-39, north of Stewart Avenue. The consultants were selected through a competitive process.
The existing median west of the freeway consists of sparse tree plantings and lawn. Some of the trees have had a difficult time establishing themselves and the quality of the lawn varies from season to season, officials said.
Construction is set to begin this summer.