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Confluence of opinions - From WQOW

Posted July 27th, 2012

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Here is the article from WQOW.

 

Eau Claire (WQOW) - They never said it was going to be easy and Wednesday, the public is getting a better idea of what lies ahead for those behind the Confluence Project.

The project calls for a new community arts center and a six-story building, home to commercial and retail space, and student housing in downtown Eau Claire.

Altogether, the price tag could hit $85 million.  Organizers are hoping to secure state funding to help foot the bill.  Wednesday, a meeting was held to let the public share thoughts and ask questions.

Mike Rindo, who represents UW-Eau Claire's involvement in the project, was one of the panelists there to answer questions.  Rindo says, "No one can do this alone.  It really does require a lot of people pulling together in the same direction."

A variety of organizations and businesses were represented at this meeting.

"Chippewa Valley Jazz Orchestra is very interested in what happens with the Confluence Center because we are a local community arts group, very interested in where the space is going.  If costs go up significantly from where they are at the State Theater, that could price groups like mine out of the Confluence Center fairly easily," says Geoffrey Peterson, the president of the Chippewa Valley Orchestra Board.

Jeff Mares, the owner of Half Moon Tea and Spice in downtown Eau Claire says, "My biggest concern is it's hard to get people downtown to a construction zone, so if a construction project is going to go on for two years, or whatever the time frame may be, you worry about foot traffic and how people are going to respond."

While there was a variety of opinions, many of the people WQOW News 18 spoke with could agree they liked being involved in the process.  "It puts a face to the project and it gives you an idea that people do genuinely care and they do want the public's input... because ultimately what they are proposing is something for the benefit of the public," says Mares. 

One thing talked about a lot on Wednesday was the possibility of the project taking over a block of buildings on South Barstow.  At this point, there are no definite plans to purchase the properties. 

To check out the article and video visit the WQOW website here.