Clintonville gets grant to study downtown, rec center needs

Kell: Important for downtown revitalization efforts

Grace Kirchner, Leader Correspondent

The Wisconsin Department of Administration has awarded a $25,000 Community Development Block Grant to Clintonville to help develop a revitalization plan for a portion of the downtown and an assessment of future uses for the former armory, which is home to the city’s recreation center.

City Administrator Chuck Kell said the funding is an important step in the city’s efforts to identify downtown revitalization strategies along the Pigeon River and to determine how much it would cost to make the rec center, 55 E. 12th St., a focal point for city activities in the downtown area.

Kell said the recreation center project could potentially qualify for a $500,000 construction grant.

“There needs to be a strong definite plan for the use of the building and a community consensus in what should be done with the facility.” he said. “Until now that has not been none.”

The downtown revitalization plan will consider tax-generating commercial uses and residential opportunities for the properties along 11th Street adjacent to the Pigeon River, including redevelopment of the old Merc building and the former bowling alley that is scheduled to be torn down later this year.

Kell says the city might consider a new Tax Incremental Finance district in the downtown, but there first needs to be a clear plan in place.

TIF districts are areas where municipalities invest in infrastructure, such as sewer and water, to attract development where it might not otherwise occur, or to make improvements, such as eliminating blight. Whatever increase in tax revenue that results from development in those districts goes to paying back the debt the municipality incurred from making improvements to the district.

Kell said the city, including residents and the Common Council, needs to develop plans for the downtown. There are buildings that need attention soon, he said, or they will go the way the bowling alley did.

“It is important to apply for another plan for the whole downtown,” he said.

Statewide, the DOA distributed $8.2 million through the block grants program this year to improve and build public facilities and to encourage further planning.

“Our administration is committed to helping local governments upgrade infrastructure vital to the growth of their community,” Secretary Scott Neitzel said. “These funds will help local governments improve our communities to ensure Wisconsin remains a great place to live and to do business.”