Wausau City Hall

Damakant Jayshi

Wausau’s Infrastructure and Facilities Committee on Thursday approved Woodson YMCA’s request to install angled parking lots around its senior activity center and an easement to construct a skywalk across Third Street for better patron accessibility.

The parking spots on three streets – on McIndoe Street between Third and Fourth Streets, on Fourth Street between Grand and McIndoe, and on Franklin Street between Fourth and Fifth Street – is estimated to cost about $238,000, said Public Works Director Eric Lindman. The spots will help facilitate easier access for seniors visiting The Landing.

The YMCA is requesting that the city contribute half of the expense reasoning that nearby places like the Historical Society, local churches, and the City Hall could also use the parking spots.

Rendering of angled parking lots around The Landing/YMCA (Photo courtesy: REI Engineering)

The timeline has yet to be determined. Lindman told Wausau Pilot that the city staff will work with the YMCA to prepare a developers agreement and “it will be approved by the City Council at a future date.”

In his memo to the Infrastructure and Facilities Committee, City Engineer Allen Wesolowski wrote that the group “should take into account the amount of financial contribution the YMCA will be requesting and also take into account the increased future costs to maintain and plow these stalls by City staff.”

Lindman, though, defended the city footing the half the bill.

“These will be public parking spaces for anyone to use,” he said, adding the work will also “improve pedestrian safety, improve our street infrastructure and increase available parking for anyone who wants to visit our downtown.” Lindman said typically all street improvements would have to be funded by the city and in this case, he added, the YMCA will be contributing to the infrastructure improvements even though all of the work is in the public right of way.

This is not the first request related to parking lots for The Landing, 707 N. 3rd St. The YMCA initially wanted to demolish a former church building on Franklin Street for a parking lot dedicated to center. But the Wausau Plan Commission rejected a zoning request in February that would have paved the way for the demolition.

YMCA Chief Executive Officer Bryan Bailey told the Plan Commission in February they should be mindful of the message they were sending by voting against growth in the downtown and by denying an accessible parking lot to seniors. He now expressed support for the new proposal.

“We originally had a different plan…so we came in to talk with city staff and we came up with some options that I think are actually much better than what our original plan was,” Bailey told the Infrastructure Committee members on Thursday. The parking is required for a $5 million expansion project for The Landing, the CEO said.

Committee members were largely receptive to the new proposal though Michael Martens and Tom Neal said they were concerned about the removal of trees on those streets. Neal suggested doing some beautification associated with the project in some way, shape or form.

But Martens added that his biggest concern is the traffic flow on Fourth Street and it appears that there seem to be some bump-outs, especially in one intersection.

Alder Lou Larson, who was elected vice chair of the committee, strongly backed the YMCA request for the parking lots, saying it was vital for the revitalization of the downtown.

The Infrastructure Committee, formerly Capital Improvements and Street Maintenance Committee, also gave its nod to two other proposals from the YMCA – dedication of right of way at 404 Franklin St. and an easement to construct a skywalk across Third Street.

Wesolowski said those angled parking lots at Franklin Street would remove the existing sidewalk. So, the addition of this right of way would allow for keeping the sidewalk in a dedicated right of way. The YMCA Foundation is dedicating the land at no cost to the city, Wesolowski said.

DPW Director Lindman told the committee the skywalk will eliminate pedestrian conflicts with traffic coming across Third Street in the future and will allow people a safe access into The Landing.

The committee approved all three YMCA requests unanimously.