Copyright: loganban

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,

I have seen many propositions for the downtown and Riverlife area and all of them include apartments, parking, and even offices. They also use a very large part of tax dollars. I see a very large problem with this. We are building many apartments that are skyrocketing our rental prices and offices that won’t be filled due to the pandemic and people discovering it is better to work from home (more cost effective actually).

Meanwhile, there are people who relied on jobs downtown (such as in the mall) because our bus transportation is SO limited that no one can go anywhere to get to any interviews or jobs that can actually pay a good wage to pay for the steadily rising rent. Especially since many of those jobs took off to Rib Mountain.

Everything is moving to either Rib Mountain or Weston and leaving nothing in what was once a bustling downtown except bars, offices, and minimum wage work and it’s a wonder everything seems to be falling apart and becoming less attractive to those who live here much less tourists. The taxi and Uber is ridiculously expensive for some to take everyday! 

When I moved to Wausau seven years ago, Wausau was beautiful and there were a lot of fun things to do. Also, the average rent was only $600-700. Now it’s $1200! If you want a really nice place that accepts any kind of animal (good luck if you have dogs over 35lbs), you have to pay at least $1000, a price that is nearly impossible on just one minimum wage job. Much of downtown’s residents are not people who can afford these price hikes as you move more jobs OUT of downtown or make them jobs for professionals. It’s like the council is trying to chase out those they think shouldn’t live here and are trying to draw in a more “likable” crowd.

Perhaps instead of punishing the people who live here, we should take a better look at some of the “business men” who are free to do as they please here. We are overrun by slumlords who take advantage of those you push out (I can name at least two who should have been black listed but were not) because of the high rent prices and strict application processes or the businesses who have been caught polluting our beautiful city. The homeless who are freezing in the streets and going through the city screaming incoherently are just left to do so instead of given help by professionals. Sure, we have two places they can stay for the night but they should not be filled EVERY NIGHT.

This is an inhumane problem. We are too busy focusing on the beauty aspect of Wausau and not the humane portion of it.We should NOT be using tax dollars and focus on NEW businesses and apartments. We should be focusing on the existing, lifting up small businesses that could be a tourist hotspot, helping those who already exist in the city, and cracking down on those who are using the new changes to their horrible benefits. We should be improving the buildings, funding filling the empty ones that we were so gung ho to create (maybe make those into low income or even free mental health facilities), add more businesses that can hire more than just suits.

If we make our town more desirable to tourists and prospective inhabitants, the more businesses will want to come here which will in turn draw more people to come here and thus more money. It just makes sense. It doesn’t do any good to have apartments to fill if no one can pay for them. I feel they’re just drawing people who won’t spend money at our local shops as well.Plus the beauty of our town (the river and the parks) need to be seen, not hidden behind 4-story buildings and apartments that will make portions of our beautiful land “private”.

Thank you,

Amber Johnson, Wausau