Halverson Oversees His Last City Plan Commission
By Brandi Makuski
Mayor Andrew Halverson chaired his final City Plan Commission Monday night, with his oversight of the group ending on a high note.
The commission met jointly with the Stevens Point Parks Board before a standing-room-only crowd to discuss, and ultimately approve, the site plans for a new Boys and Girls Club Youth Center.
“It’s a unique honor,” Halverson said of his time chairing the commission. “It’s truly a unique way to watch the community grow.”
Halverson will be stepping down from the Office of Mayor on Dec. 1 to take a job with Ellis Stone, which means he will no longer chair the commission.
Of his favorite moments on the commission, Halverson pointed to renewing the city’s comprehensive plan, which is currently undergoing updates with input from area residents, as a highlight. Halverson, along with Community Development Director Michael Ostrowski, was instrumental in prompting resident input on updating the plan, which he described as a “roadmap for future development for the next 10-20 years, maybe even 30 years and beyond”.
While Halverson enjoyed the positive note of Monday’s meeting, his time on the commission hasn’t always been sweet. Halverson took a great deal of heat regarding the Bus. 51 expansion project- so much so that he later announced the city would put that project “on the back burner” and instead focus on a new overpass for the train crossing on Country Club Drive. The new proposal was much more popular with area residents, which gave city leaders a chance to focus on smaller projects in the community.
Earlier this year Halverson watched in disappointment as commissioners considered implementing a new accessory vehicle ordinance, which would restrict where recreational vehicles could be parked on a residential lot. By law Halverson, and the rest of the commission, had to perform their due diligence on the proposed ordinance, although Halverson advised the commission “not touch it with a ten foot pole”. Action on that proposed ordinance has not yet been decided.
Prior to that city plan commissioners have had to consider dozens of proposals from area companies as well as outside developers interested in expanding or revamping lots throughout the city limits. Successful projects include a multi-million dollar construction project for a new Skyward headquarters in the East Park Commerce Center, the redevelopment of the Centerpoint Mall site and expansion of Guu’s and a new winery in the downtown district; low points for the commission thematically have revolved around Bus. 51 project, the Lullabye site adjacent to the former location of the mall and and former site of Cooper Motor site on Division Street, as well as a string of proposed but unsuccessful apartment complexes, with most turned down due to public objection.
Halverson said none of the successful projects could have come to fruition without the staff of the community development office.
“We’re blessed in this community to have the staff that we do have, professionally,” he said. “It’s highlighted often, the professionalism and discipline that we see out of the (office of) community development.”
Monday marked Halverson’s 122nd Plan Commission meeting.
“Some have been more fun than others; I can share that much with you,” he said.