Editor’s note: Wausau Pilot & Review gladly publishes commentary from readers, residents and candidates for local offices. The views of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email editor@wausaupilotandreview.com or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.

Dear Editor,

There seems to be a misunderstanding regarding the proposal for construction of housing on Thomas Street and what was said at the Economic Development Meeting Tuesday, January 5th .

I was attending that meeting as a citizen sitting in the audience. When I addressed the committee at the podium, I was speaking as a citizen, not as an Alderperson.
Mr. Dennis R Smith’s opinion quoted me as saying “Shut up and obey residents of District 3. We know better than you.” No such comment was made by me. This is only Mr. Smith’s opinion, albeit an opinion not based on facts.

According to Mr. Smith, Alderperson Mr. Killian has every right to question any action taken by the city that may have a negative impact on the residents of his district. Fun fact. Alderperson Mr. Killian was given an opportunity to review the Request for Proposal (RFP) before it was released. Alderperson Mr. Killian approved the RFP terms before it was released.

Mr. Smith indicated that Alderperson Killian is only asking for additional time to study why affordable housing would not be a better alternative for this project. If anyone feels that District 3 and Alderperson Killian has not had to discuss this project it needs to be clear that these housing options have been in play since last fall. The neighborhood and Alderperson Killian held a meeting and previously rejected a multi-family housing project.

That resulted in the proposal for single-family dwellings on the some property.
Non-profit organizations that typically build low income housing did not respond to the RFP that was released. The only organization that responded to the RFP release was a private contractor.

The proposal, submitted by the private contractor, was based on criteria from the Economic Development committee which includes Alderperson Mr. Killian. The committee asked for proposals for an average size house with a two car garage. The private contractor’s designs are based on the lot size and an average size
house with a two car garage as provided by the Economic Development committee’s terms in the RFP.

Mr. Smith indicated that I, citizen, Dawn Herbst do not have a concern for the safety of the district when he referred to the Riverside Park contamination. The Economic Development committee’s proposal for bids included criteria that the housing designs will be built on slab and not have a basement, thereby taking into
consideration any soil concerns. Additional facts regarding this project include the private contractor offering to purchase the land versus expecting the land for free. The private contractor is also not asking for funds from the city to complete this project.

Continued delays on viable projects such as this is getting to the point where why should anyone put together a proposal for the City of Wausau when it continues to be shot down. Soon contractors will say, why bother responding to an RFP when the city is going to reject the proposal because council needs additional time to not only study the possible impact of the proposed project but also get additional input from the citizens of the district. From a business perspective, shouldn’t that already be completed before a Request for Proposal is drawn up?

In closing, citizens are allowed and encouraged to attend Council meetings. Citizens are also encouraged to speak at these meetings. If not allowed to speak, then we are doing the entire city a dis-respect not just District 3. Comments expressed by any citizen can be a personal opinion or the comments can include facts. Opinions are great when they are shared as it can provide a different perspective on an issue, however, opinions are more powerful when they are based on facts.

Respectfully Yours,

Dawn Herbst, Wausau

Editor’s note: Dawn Herbst is the Wausau City Council representative for Dist. 9.