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Cornell City Council; Riverwalk no longer on the back burner

Cornell City Council; Riverwalk no longer on the back burner Cornell City Council; Riverwalk no longer on the back burner

Cornell City Council members Ashley Carothers (left) and Floyd Hickethier review documents in their packets, pertaining to important grant information that was announced at the regular meeting April 7. Photo by Ginna Young

By Ginna Young

For years, a riverwalk along Mill Yard Park in Cornell, has been on the back burner of dreams. At the last regular Cornell City Council meeting April 7, those dreams became a reality, as it was announced that $599,700 was awarded to the city from the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), for Cornell’s proposed construction of a river trail, with park accessibility improvements.

The funding comes from the Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV), with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) providing federal funding to states through the CDBG program.

“We were successful – we’re still pursuing other options on roads and things like that – but good news on that application,” said city administrator Dave DeJongh.

Money received from the CDBG-CV can only be used for outdoor recreation improvements, which the scope of the projects falls under. The city applied for the CDBG-CV for $600,000 to accomplish the riverwalk.

“This is huge,” said Carothers. Coinciding with that news, is that money is available from the Natural Resource Fund for water-related improvements. The monetary fund was established by Xcel Energy, as a result of a settlement agreement with resource agencies and other stakeholders, for the federal relicensing of three hydroelectric projects on the Lower Chippewa River.

To date, since 2004, $80,000 was awarded to the Lake Holcombe Improvement Association for various projects, so Cornell mayor Mark Larson said the city might have a real shot at getting some funding for some improvements at inlets on their part of the Chippewa River.

The application for the funding must be filed by June 1.

“As long as we’re going to have a riverwalk there, we might as well, if we can, maybe, get something from them, too,” said Larson.

Also discussed during the meeting, was the final cost of the July 3 fireworks display, since DeJongh said they want the same show as last year. After word came that the display cost went up 20 percent, DeJongh said he got this year’s display locked in at 40 percent higher.

The full cost came to $5,640, with $4,000 budgeted by the city. Thanks to private fundraising efforts and donations, that upcharge is covered for this year.

“They were talking fuel surcharges and all that,” said De-Jongh, who told J& M Displays that the 40 percent would be paid and that was it.

If the price doesn’t go up, the city has enough to cover the extra for at least next year, and possibly one year after that.

Members also approved Resolution 22-3, which agrees to reimburse any borrowing that may need to be done, as “housekeeping” for the required upcoming water tower restoration.

DeJongh also told the members they need to meet, sooner rather than later, as the color scheme for the tower still must be chosen.

“This could happen as soon as the end of May,” he said. Something the council also needs to think about, is filling the non-uniform dwelling code inspector (UDC) role, as the current non-UDC inspector is retiring as of May 1. Responsibilities for that role include measuring setbacks on detached garages and making sure the dwelling is not encroaching on a property line. Glenn Rehberg, police chief, was on hand at the meeting, to remind people to slow down when driving through the school zones while school is in session, as kids’ safety is at stake.

“It’s important, it makes a difference,” said Rehberg. Carothers also had a plea for the public – for them to be patient with the city workers, who are removing and clearing trees/brush throughout Cornell.

“It’s taking some time, but it’s starting to look really nice,” she said.

To allow reorganization of the council, the next regular meeting will be Tuesday, April 19, at 7 p.m.