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There seems to be some difference of opinion as to what type and cost of construction will take place along Thomas Street on Wausau’s southwest side.
On the one side you have District #3 Alderman Tom Kilian who feels the need for the construction to be moderately priced entry level housing to fill a pressing need for such housing. On the other side you have a number of other alderpersons who feel that the housing should be priced at $200,000 to $240,000. Their reasoning is that such housing would add to the tax base in a more significant manner than lower priced, entry level housing, and they are correct. But is this matter simply about growing the tax base?
Most residents would agree that there is a pressing need for entry level housing and not everyone can afford a home costing $200,000 to $240,000. I think that most residents would also agree that in a neighborhood the houses should be somewhat similar in cost and construction. That is, a home costing almost a quarter of a million dollars would look somewhat out of place surrounded by homes costing much less.
Alderperson Kilian, at a recent meeting of the Economic Development Committee questioned how such construction would mesh with the homes that currently exist and would surround the new construction. He indicated that he would like more time to study the possible impact of the proposed project and get some additional input from the citizens of the district. That did not go over well with Alderperson Dawn Herbst who rebuked Alderperson Kilian by stating, “We have
eleven districts that represent the city of Wausau and I cannot believe that 10 of them do not have problems that district three has. It is unbelievable. Every time that something comes up in district three it gets shot down. Or all we hear is that it hasn’t been up to the constituents. My gosh, are these people sitting in their house with blindfolds on.”
I will give you an abridged version of Alder Herbst’s statement. “Shut up and obey, residents of District Three. We know better than you.”
By now I am sure the residents of District Three are wondering what they have done to incur the wrath of some members of the city council and Alder Herbst in particular. Evidently, having concerns about the safety of your district (Riverside Park Contamination) or what is built in a particular neighborhood in the district will get you in trouble.
Actually, Alder Kilian is just looking out for the people he represents. This is refreshing as they have not enjoyed that type of representation for many years. He has every right to question any action taken by the city that may have a negative impact on the residents of his district.
It is said that “It’s all about the Benjamins”. And in some cases that may be true.
However, there is always a human side to situations like this. I would hope that others members of the council will take that into account. After all, Alder Kilian is only asking for some additional time to study why affordable housing would not be a better alternative for the project and a better fit for the residents of the neighborhood.
Dennis R. Smith, Wausau