Downtown Beaver Dam Revitalization Options Prioritized

(Beaver Dam) Revitalization plans for downtown Beaver Dam were discussed in committee Tuesday night. Earlier this month, the Beaver Dam Common Council approved borrowing $580-thousand dollars to address four primary elements of the plan: landscaping, trees, a façade grant program and the acquisition and demolition of a Front Street building. The elements were identified in a downtown revitalization study that was unveiled earlier this year. The city’s Community Development Committee prioritized the options last night.

Committee member Phil Fritsche, who is also president of the Chamber of Commerce, led the committee to a consensus on making the building demolition a top priority. Fritsche championed the open walkway that would be created leading to the new community theatre and said it would be the best way to leverage public and private dollars. There was no final determination made last night but the committee did direct the mayor to further explore the matter and return next month with more specific options.

It was noted that the timeline for building removal could be several months because the city may use eminent domain for the acquisition. It was specifically noted that eminent domain could be used in cases of voluntary acquisition. The city attorney also mentioned that a raze order could be issued for one of the buildings. Three buildings were referenced but not identified.

Concerns about spending all the allotted money on acquisition and demolition led to brainstorming alternative ideas, like buying a building and not demolishing it but instead using the first floor as a pass through. Because there was not a solid cost estimate, the committee set a conservative budget of around $200-thousand dollars for the building portion of the plan.

Another approximately $200-thousand dollars was identified for the committee’s second priority: landscaping. The committee agreed by consensus to divide the landscaping needs into multiple segments when going out to bid and then pick and choose the pieces that fit into the budget.

The committee also agreed by consensus to direct $100-thousand dollars to replenish the façade grant program for downtown buildings. That money could be reallocated if any other portion of the plan goes over budget. Another $30-thousand dollars is earmarked for trees. The specifics will all continue to be hammered out in both the Community Development Committee and Operations Committee in coming weeks and months.

Listen to the audio recording of the meeting here:



NOTE: Audio is from a microphone set in the middle of the committee table; individual committee members and others in attendance did not have mics. As a result, the quality of the audio is not consistently optimal as some in attendance were not directly in front of the mic.