City creates bicycle commission
By Gene Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Common Council adopted an ordinance amendment to create a Bicycle-Pedestrian Street Safety Commission (BPSC) Monday, April 16.
The BPSC will replace the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee (BPAC) established in 2015 by Mayor Mike Wiza, who dissolved the BPAC after the Council’s action because it was no longer needed.
Alderperson Tori Jennings, District 1, had introduced the ordinance in March, saying she felt bicycle interests weren’t being addressed by the city and she wanted the bicycle group to have the same status as the Board of Public Works and Plan Commission, with staff time available to address issues.
The Council delayed action to allow her to work with City Attorney Logan Beveridge to rewrite the proposal for legal purposes.
Wiza urged alderpersons to rethink the ordinance because he feels it fails to address concerns expressed by alderpersons and others about respect for BPAC. He said Jennings had refused to meet with him after she proposed the ordinance, and he doesn’t feel a change in the law is really necessary.
“I like to strive for solutions instead of passing new laws,” he said.
“Are you really trying to resolve issues?” he asked. “Is it really more important to do it this way?”
The ordinance amendment was approved by an 8-1 vote, with alderperson Jeff Slowinski, District 6, opposed. Voting in favor were Jennings; David Shorr, District 2; Heidi Oberstadt, District 4; Meleesa Johnson, District 5; Mary Kneebone, District 7; Cathy Dugan, District 8; Mike Phillips, District 10; and Shaun Morrow, District 11. Excused were Cindy Nebel, District 3; and Mary McComb, District 9.
The city currently is accepting applications to serve on the commission.
The Council gave its approval to a number of committee recommendations from recent weeks:
* The development of a strip mall and two four-story student apartment buildings on the former Kmart department store parcel at 111 Division St. N. The store closed in January after nearly 50 years of operation.A 16,000-square-foot commercial center is planned on the west side of the property along Division Street North and two apartment buildings with 133 units to provide 421 beds are planned on the eastern half of the property.
* Construction of the proposed O’so Brewery in East Park Commerce Center on Stevens Point’s southeast side. The development includes a 30,000-square-foot building with outdoor patio, parking lot, shipping and receiving area and hop fields on approximately 20 acres near the proposed southwest entrance to the Commerce Center.
The parcel does not have an address yet and will be accessible through an extension of Venture Drive and a temporary route from County Highway HH. A more permanent road from HH will be built later to provide access to O’so. The approval includes a conditional-use permit to operate a brewery and a site plan.
* A redevelopment project at the former Grant School site at 525 Fourth Ave. to include the construction of 10 two-family houses on the block bounded by Fourth Avenue on the north, Frederick Street on the east, Washington Avenue on the south and Grant Street on the west. The houses were initially identified as three-story structures, but the developer said they may become two story.
The action included a final subdivision plat review for the property, rezoning the property from R-3 Single and Two Family Residence District to Planned Development District and amending the city’s Comprehensive Plan future land-use map to designate the land as residential from institutional/government.
* Transferred city property at P.J. Jacobs Junior High School to the Stevens Point Area Public School District as part of an agreement to purchase the former Emerson School site for a potential park.
* Approved the purchase of approximately 1.66 miles of abandoned railroad right-of-way for $175,000 from Canadian National spanning from former Whiting Mill in the village of Whiting to Francis Street in Stevens Point. The Council will also apply for a federal grant to assist with the acquisition and development of the land.
* Settled an over-assessment claim with the owners of the former Joerns plant, 5001 Joerns Drive, to refund $26,723 in taxes for 2016. Multiple property owners of large buildings have filed claims against municipalities in the state claiming the property tax assessment is too high on larger buildings.