(Beaver Dam) Trees have officially been planted in downtown Beaver Dam. The city council approved borrowing $580-thousand dollars earlier this year to address downtown revitalization efforts. The plan includes the installation of 17 trees in the concrete sidewalks on the 100 and 200 blocks of Front Street. Ten thousand dollars’ worth of planters with flowers have also been placed.
Forward Construction Group of Beloit performed the work that also includes the installation of brick pavers and lighting in the pedestrian walkway connecting the Tower Parking Lot and Front Street, which is still in progress. The total contract is for $79-thousand dollars.
The changes come as welcome news to the neighboring American Bank where its President John Oathout is touting the privately-funded American Bank Park in the Tower Parking Lot. He calls the trees the “centerpiece” of the downtown. With new businesses coming in and the relocation of the arts association and community theatre he says “it’s going to look very different.” Oathout, who until recently sat on the city’s Community Development Committee, credits a private-public partnership for the changes in the downtown. He says the changes make the downtown more viable and spur positive and exciting changes. A ribbon-cutting is expected shortly for American Bank Park, which includes picnic tables, large hand-picked river stones and an Amish-built pergola – which is like a gazebo.
Not everyone is excited about the changes in the downtown as the revitalization funding was cited as one of the main reasons for the recall petition being circulated against Mayor Becky Glewen. While Glewen never did cast a vote on the plan herself, she did champion the revitalization study, that identified aesthetic enhancements, and she also pushed for the funding to take action on the study.
Not all of the funding that was borrowed will be used this year. The city has between $200-and-$300-thousand dollars earmarked for landscaping, but no bids were received for a project at Front and Center, pushing it off until next year. Also, city officials are still in the process of acquiring a downtown building for demolition to create a walkway between Front Street and the new $2.6-million-dollar community theatre.