By Jacob Mathias
In an attempt to plan for future housing needs, the City of Wisconsin Rapids is seeking residents to participate in a survey to determine the current state of housing in the area.
The study, approved by the Common Council in October, is being performed by Reedsburg-based community development firm Vierbicher Associates.
Questions on the survey aim to determine current housing stock, homeowner demographics and housing preferences. The survey also asks about current renters, their reason for renting and any reasons or barriers for not buying a home.
This is the first formal housing study done of the city and Director of Planning and Economic Development Adam Tegen said any supposed issues with the city’s housing are conjecture at this point. From what Tegen has heard, citizens are concerned that the city is becoming too much of a retirement community, there’s a lack of housing in the downtown area and the current housing stock is aging.
“From the information we’ve heard from various apartment developers when they’re looking at the area, one of the biggest issues in Rapids is the age of our housing stock,” said Tegen at a meeting of city’s Common Council in June. “The vast majority were built prior to 1980, so they’re aging. Some are getting run down, but newer housing stock is a need.”
He said not only the age of the homes will be considered, as some homes are obviously well maintained, but the quality of the homes regardless of the date they were built.
Once the study is complete, it will help the city attract developers and also assist the Common Council in deciding what developments to approve.
“This study can say ‘is there a need or is there not'” said Tegen.
The study is being completed at a cost of $21,500 and surveys will be available until at least the end of December or longer if there is a need for more participation. The assessment of the gathered data is projected to be prepared and presented by Vierbicher sometime in the spring of 2016.
The survey can be done completely anonymous and will take 10-15 minutes to complete. Those who complete the survey will be entered to win a gift card to a local business.
Electronic submissions of the survey are preferred and can be found at http://wisrapidshousingstudy.questionpro.com/ but if you prefer paper, copies are available at City Hall, McMillan Memorial Library, Senior Center, Heart of Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce, Mid-State Technical College and the village or town halls of Grand Rapids, Biron, Nekoosa and Port Edwards.