Dear editor,

I am trying to understand why the city (of Wausau) has forced us to navigate poorly cleared sidewalks along Grand Avenue.

It’s not like we haven’t had an eternity of experience to know how to manage snow on sidewalks. The rough geography of the remaining snow following brushing has made it difficult, even for the most seasoned sidewalk pounders, let alone those with mobility challenges.

A postal carrier described the conditions as “rough” to me. I have not seen the petite woman who was walking daily with her little dog in tow of her four-wheeled walker for ages. Perhaps the delay of days to respond to heavy snowfalls (a complaint I heard from an area resident) and the lack of any effort to manage the chronic splash-over of cars speeding down Grand Avenue also contribute to these  paths that can rival any grade 7 hiking trail.

I don’t see this issue in the retail district downtown, an area being preened for welcoming gaggles of high-earning young urban professionals. This aspiration is further proven by the city’s recent request for $10.5 million from COVID relief money to build a sculptural bridge for the area, which, I am sure, will be shoveled immacuately.

This “trail of two cities” suggests the needs of the more common people, especially the mobility-challenged, are not considered with the same reverence as these professionals and the image the city is creating  to sell to them on Wausau as an upcoming  little Madison.

Why can’t the sidewalks be cleared like the streets? Why can’t the COVID relief money through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and offshoot funding assist in establishing high quality basic services to regular and challenged folk? Could ARPA funding be used to finance current bigger projects, allowing the city to direct budgeted money to services as basic as snow shoveling? Could DPW reevaluate it’s protocol for shoveling sidewalks outside the downtown district? Perhaps the DPW director could try navigating these sidewalks with a cane, then walker, then wheelchair, or jog following a brushing.

I find it unconscionable that a governmental body with such vast experience managing snow, staring at an historic windfall of funding, cannot guarantee that people of all levels of mobility can safely and easily walk on a busy sidewalk.

Bruce Grau of Wausau

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 or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.