Wrapping it up: A weekly update with Wisconsin Rapids Mayor Shane Blaser
This week, Mayor Shane Blaser touches on the fireworks show and utilization of the city’s One Mile ponds:
City cancels Labor Day fireworks
“This was a difficult decision – we had to consider the risks to public health alongside the huge emotional benefit our Independence Day celebration brings to our community,” Blaser said.
On Aug. 4, the Wisconsin Rapids Finance and Property Committee voted in favor of cancelling the fireworks show and festival for this year. On Aug. 7, the Common Council considered the committee’s recommendation and weighed the risks and benefits at length.
“Their vote ended in a tie, which is indicative of so many decisions related to the pandemic – the public is split in a similar fashion,” Blaser said. “I was responsible for breaking the tie, so I considered the arguments of each alderperson. One alderperson who voted against cancelling the celebration did so because of concerns related to the fireworks contract, but I thought he would have voted to cancel the event otherwise.
“So, unfortunately, I had to follow this logic and also vote to cancel the event.
“If you watched the meeting, you’ll see it took me several moments to consider the most fair and logical response, because I have to admit – I wanted to vote against cancelling the event,” he added. “I wish we could have figured out a way to conduct this year’s event – or at least the fireworks – responsibly.”
The utilization of the city’s One Mile ponds
“The city is interested in utilizing the One Mile ponds between Two Mile Avenue and Lincoln Street for storm water treatment, to take advantage of the treatment the ponds are currently providing,” Blaser said.
Currently, the DNR will not allow the city to get storm water treatment credits from these ponds without legal access and proper permitting; and since the ponds are primarily treating storm water already, it is an economical option for the city to pursue.
“The benefit to the property owner is that the city would maintain the ponds, including dredging. The property owners would still enjoy ownership and full use of the property to the extent that those activities do not interfere with the treatment of storm water,” Blaser said.
The DNR will allow the ponds to be used for storm treatment purposes, as long as the city obtains legal access and permits – outfall structure, dam, dredging, etc.
“If the adjacent property owners surrounding the ‘upper’ and ‘lower’ ponds are open to considering this proposal, the City would draft a permanent easement document that would grant the city access to the pond,” Blaser added. “Once legal access is obtained, the city would proceed with DNR permits and necessary plan documents to construct a new outlet structure and pond dredging. The city has already starting meeting with property owners.”
The One Mile Pond project is expected to offset over a million dollars in pond construction elsewhere.