Dear editor,

The City Pages published an article on “River’s Edge expansion” July 3, 2023. The article stated the city is negotiating with MBX on easements along the river between Stewart Avenue and Bridge Street. This claim is not true. No one from the city has contacted me about negotiating an MBX First Avenue easement.

On July 8, 1980, my father signed a license agreement with the city. The agreement allowed a river edge trail to be built at the MBX First Avenue location.

The city could have showed up at any time and built the trail. What the city did for 30 years, was do nothing, but try to get more land from MBX. Numerous proposals were made. All of the city’s proposals wanted portions of their trail to run on top of the MBX riverbanks. 

MBX has a very tight space at First Avenue. We have limited usable land. MBX (Timber Creek) is squeezed between railroad tracks and riverbanks. In the winter, MBX has one place to go with snow. Over the riverbanks. A trail on top of our riverbanks would obstruct how MBX uses its property. The city said they’d need to build a fence between the trail and MBX property. A fence would make it impossible to push snow over the riverbanks. MBX would lose considerable usable land in the winter. Less usable space would be lost in the warmer seasons.

The city’s proposed minimum-cost trail designs would create great hardship for how MBX uses its property. Other segments of Wausau’s river trail traverse the tops of their riverbanks. Those trail segments don’t interfere with the functioning of their properties. That’s not the case with MBX. The “Winter at MBX” photos reveal the hard reality. MBX pushes snow as far as it will go. The rest accumulates in drifts on top of our riverbanks. 

The “Winter at MBX” photos did not exist when MBX was negotiating with the city in 2010. If they did, our discussions with the city would have been very short.  It is clear, MBX cannot locate a trail on top of its riverbanks. 

I walked the MBX wetlands in 2014 with then Park’s Director Bill Duncanson. Bill concluded a trail could be built in the wetlands just where my father proposed it.  Bill even mentioned future projects such as docks with placards and fishing area platforms.

MBX will sign a permanent easement with the city for a First Avenue river trail. The easement wording would have to be clear and simple. Portions of the wording could be similar to the license agreement. We’d strike item No. 5 since MBX would be granting a permanent easement. MBX will charge the city $1 for an easement that replicates my father’s 1980 trail design.

Harvey S. Scholfield, chairman MBX (Retired)

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