Damakant Jayshi

The Wausau City Council on Tuesday approved using more than $1 million from federal funds to convert all high intensity lighting in the city to LED and to carry out improvements in the skateboard park at Oak Island.

The entire funding approved, $1,106,971, would be sourced from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant, the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund. The LED lighting project has been allocated $881,971 and the Skateboard Park will receive $225,000 for improvements, which include replacing the current blacktop surface with a concrete.

The Finance Committee selected the two projects by applying ARPA fund evaluation criteria which is available on page 58 of this packet.

City officials say the HID (high-intensity discharge) lighting “is reaching its end of life.” The LED (light emitting diode) conversion will reduce energy usage by more than half while reducing the maintenance costs.

The skateboard park “poses multiple safety concerns each year as the blacktop changes with the freeze and thaw,” Finance Committee documents said. “This project would include concrete surfacing, refurbishing the existing equipment and the addition of a few new modern pieces.”

With Tuesday’s decision, the Wausau City Council directed city officials to modify the 2022 budget in line with their decision.

Wausau will be receiving approximately $15 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funds in two payments. The Finance Committee will evaluate proposals to be funded under ARPA grants.

Executive Committee composition amended

The City Council voted on Tuesday to clarify that the proposed Executive Committee will have at least six different alders as members. The chairs of each of the city’s six standing committees are automatic members, with the Common Council president also a member of the body and serving as its presiding officer.

The council unanimously passed an amendment clarifying that there would be no “duplication” of alders. This was done to ensure that the Executive Committee would have different members in the event an alder becomes chair of more than one standing committee as was the case in the just ended term.

Mayor Katie Rosenberg assured the alders that the Executive Committee would not become a “killer committee” because all matters will have to be brought to the Common Council for final consideration. Some members expressed the concern that the Executive Committee could quash some proposals, with those not on the committee missing an opportunity to have their say on the matter.

The Executive Committee, which replaces the Coordinating and Legislative committees, is slated to “implement the City’s Strategic Plan by coordinating policy formation among the Committees and providing leadership for all council policies.”