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Stevens Point to finish Division Street environmental study, plus library negotiations, vaping bars

by
Jeremy Slowinski, Stevens Point City Council President
Jeremy Slowinski, Stevens Point City Council President

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- Stevens Point leaders discussed vaping bars, moved to finish an environmental study, and met in closed session to discuss the library issues.

DIVISION STREET ENVIRONMENTAL STUDY:

Stevens Point City Council members decided to go ahead and finish an environmental study on a road project, even though it may be a decade before the work begins.

An environmental study was started for the Business 51 Division Street corridor, and a considerable amount of the work has been done. When the city council voted a few months ago to instead focus on a Hoover Avenue railroad overpass, the Division Street reconstruction was put on the shelf.

Council members voted Monday to finish the study anyway, saying that completed study will help them in the future. City Council President Jeremy Slowinski says having that document ready can help the city apply for funding assistance for safety improvements, such as rebuilding the 4th Street and Division Street intersection.  “If there’s an issue at a certain part of the corridor that we can move forward, and improve that section of the corridor that’s been a part of our safety goals. Applying for dollars being we’ll have a document in place showing that we are ready to move forward with it. We’ll be eligible for additional dollars for that construction or that corridor. You know, we already have almost $500,000 invested in it, and for us to just throw that out, I don’t think it’s being responsible.”

The city has about $300,000 earmarked for the remainder of the environmental documents. To start over later would mean sacrificing the half million already invested, and paying over a million for the process from scratch. Having the document completed not only helps the city stay eligible for safety program dollars, it also greatly reduces the odds of needing a full environmental impact statement when they do start working on the road.

VAPING BARS:

Stevens Point leaders are still debating what, if anything, to do with vaping bars. Some city council members believe they should be a conditional use for certain business district zoning. Others believe they should be licensed facilities such as a tavern or restaurant.

City Council President Jeremy Slowinski doesn’t support either option. He believes the city would be better off without more regulation on vaping bars.  “There will be plenty of other methods in place for the oversight for that facility, that I just feel that we don’t need it. It’s a legal use and there are statutes put in place through the state that if there’s any illegal activity, you know we can prosecute through that, so I think it’s going to be redundant.”

The city has not yet decided what they will do. Monday’s discussion of the issue brought out arguments for and against licensing them. There was no formal proposal or resolution to vote on.

LIBRARY NEGOTIATIONS:

President Slowinski confirmed that the city and Portage County are again negotiating on what to do with the library.  The city owns the building and leases it to the county.  The city would like to turn the building over to the county, but the county is hesitant to accept it since the building needs several maintenance items taken care of, and they like the present lease arrangement.

 

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