The Ladysmith Common Council voted 7-0, Monday, May 8, to approve a professional services agreement for reuse of the former elementary school building on Lindoo Avenue.
City Administrator Alan Christianson Jr., told the committee this matter was in regard to federal funding that may be awarded for the property at the northwest corner of Lindoo Avenue and E. Sixth Street S.
“This will be to assist with administration regarding that $3 million,” Christianson said. “Upon the awarding agency formally announcing.”
Funding will come from Tax Incremental District 12 that is associated with this project, according to Christianson.
Christianson called this a fairly new program with little council discussion.
Last December, the council extended the purchase date of the former elementary school by Northpointe Development to Aug. 31, 2023. It appears the developer is closing in on funding for the project as the purchase date deadline has been extended on at least four occasions during the last two years.
The council purchased the property from the Ladysmith School District in 2020 with a vision of transforming the building and grounds northwest of the intersection of Lindoo Avenue and E. Sixth Street into a site offering workforce housing, daycare, recreation and youth programs.
In March 2021, the council unanimously approved hiring Northpointe to redevelop the former elementary school on Lindoo Avenue. Based in Oshkosh, Northpointe Development owns and provides market-rate affordable and senior housing in the state and elsewhere. It works closely with municipalities to examine real estate development needs and turn them into opportunities for new construction, historic preservation, rural housing and senior living. The city received inquiries from several developers in Wisconsin and one from Minnesota. Northpointe was the only developer with a qualifying response to the city’s request for proposals.
In June 2021, the council voted to sell the former elementary school to Northpointe for $1 in the ongoing effort to repurpose the property.
In November 2021, the council voted to extend the purchase offer closing date from the original Dec. 31, 2021, closing date to May 1, 2022, as city leaders seek funding resources. The council later extended this offer to May 31, 2022.
Last September, the council agreed to amend the offer, extending the deadline to Dec. 31, 2022.
The Lindoo School Apartments received funding from the 2022 allocation from the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Administration, after the original WHEDA statement that the application was “on hold”
WHEDA Public Affairs Program Manager Raechelle Belli called it “a late award.”
“Due to the return of credits, we had extra credits to allocate and that project was given what it needed,” Belli said.
Northpointe Development was requesting $904,000 for an adaptive reuse of Lindoo School Apartments, with 40 total units with 33 of these units designated as low income.
The city would retain the recreational facilities north of school for possible parkland and other outdoor uses.
Also, Monday, the council voted unanimously to approve four additional storm sewer catch basins as part of a Flambeau Avenue reconstruction project change order.
Developer John Kenyon is proposing three new duplexes on Flambeau Avenue, which is currently under reconstruction. He recently built one new duplex on the south side of Flambeau Avenue east of Douglas Drive.
It would be better to plan the current Flambeau Avenue reconstruction with this future new development in mind, according to Public Works Director Kurt Gorsegner.
“Then we don’t have to go back in, tear things up and rearrange it,” Gorsegner said. “There is no better time than the present to do it.”
Kenyon told the council his share of the project is $37,200 for the new utilities with a $6,400 change order for Skid Steer Guy of Mondovi to do the work.
“This didn’t make it into the original plan for Flambeau Avenue because there were not driveways there (several years ago) when the plan was done,” Kenyon said.
City officials expressed the need to do the additional work now when the street was being reconstructed. Without the additional catch basins, stormwater could flow onto the road and cause potholes and other damage.
“We all walked around out there, and we agreed these catch basins need to go in otherwise we will be doing additional damage to the street there prematurely. It would just be additional work if they needed to return later,” Kenyon said.
Kenyon is paying for all other utilities to the proposed new duplex properties himself, and asked the city to help with adding the storm sewers to the reconstruction project.
He said the three new duplexes with six services are planned for building in the next five years.
“They will all be done and in the next five years when the new duplexes are done we won’t have to tear up the street,” Kenyon said.
Also Monday, the city council unanimously approved a $50,591 contract with DC Crete of Bruce for sidewalk, curb and gutter replacements in the city this year as part of annual maintenance. No other bids were received.
Also Monday, the city council unanimously approved a $42,468 contract with Scott Construction of Wisconsin Dells for chipseal in the city this year as part of annual maintenance. Fahrner Asphalt Sealers of Eau Claire bid $58,725.
In other matters, the council:
— Observed a moment of silence for St. Croix Sheriff’s Department Deputy Kaitie Leising. She was slain in the line of duty with a funeral held last week.
— Heard city resident Greg Wagner ask several questions about brush collection and if city residents could opt to have the chips blown into their yard for use as free mulch. City Public Works Director Kurt Gorsegner said this is possible, but it won’t be a tidy pile.
— Heard Tourism Committee member Cheyenne Makinia speak in favor of increasing the city room tax from 4 percent. She said a 0.5 percent increase could generate about $5,200 and better support activities in the community.
— Unanimously approved authorizing the city administrator to file financial assistance applications with the state Environmental Improvement Fund for the Corbett and Lindoo avenues projects. The 2024 projects involve Lindoo Avenue between E. Fourth and E. Sixth streets and Corbett Avenue between E. Sixth and E. Fifth or E. Fourth streets, Plans are already done for the Lindoo Avenue project, and both are in rough shape.
— Unanimously approved declaring official intent to reimburse expenditures for state Department of Natural Resources Safe Drinking Water Loan Program and Clean Water Fund Loan Program for the Corbett and Lindoo avenues projects.
— Unanimously approved summer help staffing. Hiring is ongoing, but still short three lifeguard and two public works positions. There is not enough to staff lifeguards at the Memorial Park beach, with at least eight needed.
— Heard Ald. Al Christianson, Sr., reopen the conversation on potholes and his interest in an advisory $500,000 referendum on the 2024 spring election. These funds would go toward road construction, noting this amount could complete three blocks with utilities.
— Heard the city has engine braking ordinance signs to meet a new city ordinance passed by the council last fall, waiting for time to be installed. Other issues expecting to be addressed by council committee include vaping and littering.
— Noted a public hearing will be held on Monday, May 22, on special assessments for the W. Fifth Street N reconstruction between North and Flambeau avenues.
— Unanimously approved an amendment to Morgan & Parmley’s engineering letter of agreement for the W. Fifth Street N reconstruction project.
— Unanimously approved select asphalt pulverizing at select industrial locations. Works includes the Enterprise Center where the now-defunct 5R Processors had stored semi trailers and at Rockwell Automation. The cost is about $1 per square yard with funding from property rent overages or the city Mining Fund. An exact cost was not available, but city officials said money is available.
— Voted 6-0 with one abstention to approve spending $150 to develop a building renovation cost estimate. Funding could come from Tax Incremental District 8 or 15. Ald. John Hoover abstained. City Administrator Al Christianson, Jr., said this item ties into the second closed session on the agenda in seeking grant funding.
— Unanimously approved appointing Hoover to the city/county tourism committee.
— Went into closed session to report on possible condemnation proceedings. No additional information was made publicly available.
— Went into closed session to consider making an offer to assist with old hospital/nursing home complex rehabilitation in lieu of demolition so that it can be converted into a VA facility, workforce housing or other uses which meet identified public needs in this city and county. No additional information was made publicly available.
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