RDA outlines strategy for public workshop

Tuesday session designed to correct misinformation
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The Shawano Redevelopment Authority met Friday to discuss its plans for a public workshop Tuesday at City Hall, where officials are hoping to assuage concerns and address what they fear is misinformation about the RDA’s blight redevelopment district.

Some property owners have already expressed their views during the public comment portions of recent city meetings, but without the give-and-take necessary to address all of the individual questions.

“This will be a non-controversial way of having those discussions with the public,” Assistant City Administrator Eddie Sheppard said.

Sheppard said there are still “hurt feelings” about why some properties are considered blighted, what the blight designation means and the statutory requirements that went into the creation of the district.

“There are a lot of the comments we’ve heard, we’d love to just stand up and explain, but we didn’t have that format,” Sheppard said.

Tuesday’s workshop, scheduled from 5:30-7 p.m. at City Hall, 127 S. Sawyer St., is designed give property owners and others an opportunity to get specific questions answered directly from RDA and city staff.

The workshop will feature maps, visual displays and an outline of the RDA action plan.

Four tables will be set up where RDA members will field questions about the blight definition and statutory requirements of the district, the goals and objectives of the RDA action plan, RDA redevelopment priorities within the district and future goals of the district.

“Hopefully we’ll gather a lot of good information and help people understand the plan,” Sheppard said.

Ultimately, Sheppard said, the goal of the district is “to assist in encouraging redevelopment.”

RDA Chair Amanda Sheppard said she was looking forward to clarifying any misunderstandings.

“I would just like the opportunity to correct any misinformation that arises,” she said. “I don’t think that’s helpful for anyone.”

One nagging issue the RDA will have to address is the idea that property owners within the district will have their properties included on a so-called list of blighted properties.

“There seems to be an overriding concern about being put on the list,” said RDA member Dave Kerber, even though, he said, most of the properties were already in a blight elimination district.

The RDA district roughly follows the contours of Tax Incremental Finance districts already designated for blight elimination along Main Street from the Wolf River bridge on the north to Wescott Avenue on the south, and along Green Bay Street from Main Street on the west to Rusch Road on the east.

“First of all, they have to realize they were already in a blighted district,” Kerber said, “but they want to know how they get off the list.”

Technically, however, there is no list to get off of, Eddie Sheppard said.

“The list doesn’t exist as something we maintain,” he said. “The district is the list.”

The RDA is hoping to ease that confusion by eliminating specific blight designations in its project plan, which would focus instead on redevelopment priorities within the district.