Nebel: City Needs Rental Restrictions, Re-Stripe on Bus. 51
By Brandi Makuski
Cindy Nebel is running for the city’s 3rd District representative on the City Council.
Nebel, 61, has two grown daughters and lives with her husband. The two have lived in the same Briggs St. home for more than 35 years.
Nebel has a degree in education from UW-Stevens Point. She is currently a home bound teacher for the Stevens Point School District.
Her opponent is Chris Villarreal; both are newcomers to city government.
Why are you running?
“I’m running because it’s my time to step forward and be part of the process. We’ve had some really great alders, and I’ve been really fortunate to live where we do for 37 years, and I feel it’s just time for me to give back in a way that I can to speak on behalf of people who are my neighbors.
You live in the Core, it’s a unique area in the city because of all the police activity and high number of off-campus rentals. How would you address those unique challenges for the city?
“The ‘Core’ really is a negative connotation in my eyes. I think it’s important o collaborate with all the different entities, and I have been; I started 17 years ago doing Labor of Love with the university, and it’s something that we could finally show people how great some of the students were. The small percentage people were seeing was negative. In doing so over the years, with the Old Main Neighborhood Association going, we saw a need for having some sort of organization because of the things affecting our neighborhood. It made a difference. It made people feel like they’re not alone, and when they had issues, they had resources for getting help.”
In that vein, what are your thoughts on staffing levels at the police department?
“I really feel we have to put strength in our city police; they do their best, they really do. One of the things they’r trying to do presently is work with campus police. I, personally, went to Bill Rowe, tried to get those meetings going, to get them to collaborate, and I think that’s starting to happen. I’ve learned it is a slow grind, and I am not a patient person. Our neighborhood is much better, in the sense of police calls. I think the city needs to address the location for the police department; their facility is not conducive for them to do what they need to do. That steep driveway is just ridiculous — I don’t know how they drive up and down there in the snow. But they are outgrown where they’re at.”
What are your thoughts on licensing rental units and parking permits? Both issues seemed to derive from problems in your neighborhood.
“Ya know, it’s funny, that’s not something I ever pushed for with the neighborhood association. If there’s going to be parking on city streets, I would hope they give the permits to the residents who live there so they’re not paying twice; once for the streets with their taxes and again for the permit. I’m still thinking they haven’t come up with enough of a parking plan to have all the pieces figured out. For the rentals, I look at that as a business. It should be registered somehow so it’s noted how they differentiate between houses that are owner-occupied to ones that are rented.”
In your opinion, what are some financial priorities for the city?
“Development. It has to be smart, it has to be thought-through. It has to be placed in areas you can drive in and maintain. We have an infrastructure that is very old, and our ability to keep up with that are getting tested. We have to make smart choices; if the foundation isn’t strong, your city doesn’t have anything to build on.”
How would you have voted on the east side town-home development?
“Ya know, I can’t say how I would have voted because I wasn’t able to be at that meeting. But my first thought of that construction was the first cost of the infrastructure to the city, the roads and everything.”
It’s all private property; there was no cost to the city and that was actually in the meeting packet.
“It was? OK, is that the one that got turned down?”
Only by the City Plan Commission; the City Council overturned it.
“What was the reason behind that?”
There was a lot of concern about the wetlands surrounding the development.
“That wouldn’t be my biggest worry. My biggest worry is that we have to have that [housing] study done first so we’re choosing things that are right. That would be my only reason I would say no, because we’re putting a lot of money into the housing study and it’s supposed to be all-encompassing. We need infill more than we need to go outward.”
What are some examples of infill you’d like to see addressed?
“Well, they haven’t done anything with it yet but I hear there’s something in the works for the old Lullaby area. I think there are some areas they might have to tear down because some are not preservable. It we’re ever going to renew some of these neighborhoods, we’re going to need mixed-use in there.”
The downtown TIF has been underwater for years; how would you propose we fix it?
“I’ll be honest with you, I really don’t know on that one. My expertise is not in the downtown business area. That doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s important. If I got elected, I will learn everything I can about all the different areas.”
How do you feel about lane re-striping on Stanley Street?
“That’s a mixed on for me. I can see both sides of it. I can see how the people who live there would not want it, and they need to be heard on this. But there could be ideas that could be a middle ground that we should look at. But this is a really minimal amount of money, and I think it’s worth giving it a try.”
Some might say $50,000 is a lot of money; given our financial constraints, is it worth spending money on a project that isn’t really necessary?
“That really is important to think about. This is a small project, and some things can wait longer than others. What we have to first figure out is our main infrastructure, and we’d have to figure out where to trim. We have to be very careful about where our money is spent. And we have to be careful about getting the right information out and hearing ideas from the public, because that’s how a lot of projects become reality and we don’t want to move forward with blinders on. If there are money issues with this, maybe it should be put on the back burner. But it is an ideal spot to try it out on.”
The City Council has requested a lot of presentations on this not really germane to city business since 2015, to include social issues. Is this the place for it?
“That’s a good question. I haven’t really thought about that. I’d really need time to think on it more. But we have sister cities, and that program is city-driven. And the mayor did the walkway (Creative Crosswalk) and sometimes you have to do that, bring some humanity into government.”
How would you fix Bus. 51?
“I would like to see minimal changes. Our sewer systems and everything need to get done, and I think re-striping needs to get done. It’s been a state highway, and we don’t want to add more lanes for faster traffic.”