One of the reasons I ran for Wausau City Council was I was tired of seeing our taxpayer money spent on incompetent decisions where only one plan was offered and the results were millions of taxpayer dollars wasted.
With the Wausau Center mall, we again were offered only one plan that is silently shoving its way to fast forward production without resident input. When there’s this kind of public money involved, we need more resident input before moving forward. To this point there has been none.
After the Sept. 22 meeting, it seems that there will be one scheduled for Oct. 8. They want a couple million dollars to tear the mall down, plus more to rebuild city streets. Here is what we’re not being told. Once we have these empty lots who’s going to pay for the rest of this plan? How many millions will the taxpayers be asked to donate?
In talking with many of the mall’s business owners/managers, they have many concerns about WOZ. Transparency is one of them. They’re saying the mall is scheduled to close Jan. 31, 2021, yet they have had nothing officially delivered to them. Some businesses say they may not reopen because of startup costs. Others say they will not relocate in Wausau. Businesses in the mall, apparently, are doing well and have been upset at previous mall operators to not put themselves out there, reinvent themselves by scheduling more events to attract more businesses and foot traffic.
People are concerned that the spokesperson for WOZ is a contractor that has the most to gain here and is a conflict of interest. The city in the past has used its “blight card” to justify its development plans. There is no blight in the mall. It’s been beautifully maintained inside and out over the years. Why are we not looking at something to upgrade the current facility? Something that will also accommodate the current businesses that want to stay?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for moving Wausau forward. I cannot support this plan, however, until all the financial aspects are made public, from beginning to completion. We need to be sure this is right for the residents of Wausau. We need to be sure this won’t add additional burden to our tax roll/taxpayers which is already overburdened. We need to be fiscally responsible to the residents we represent.
Lou Larson, Wausau City Council member, District 10
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