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Posted: October 16, 2013 New Community Look Out, Patio a Possibility by the Chippewa River

New Community Look Out, Patio a Possibility by the Chippewa River


Pending approval by the Eau Claire City Council, a new look out over the river may be coming to the Water Street business district. Through a Clearwater Funds grant, Downtown Eau Claire, Inc. has relegated the Water Street Business Improvement District (BID) $5,000 to help with the project.


The project is expected to cost $100,000 in its entirety and is expected to take about five years to be completely finished, according to the grant application submitted by the Water Street BID. The 30 by 40 foot deck, if approved, will be built at the corner of Menomonie Street and Fifth Avenue. It is an ideal place for the patio because it is also where the Chippewa River bike trail has an intersection, said John Mogensen, the president of the Water Street BID board.


Construction on the deck could start as early as this fall or right away in the spring, Mogensen said. The patio's design is reminiscent of "the old logging day and natural heritage of the place," according to the grant application. After that phase is complete, the next step would be to build a path leading to the river, make improvements along the bike trail and fix up the pavilion that is currently in the space.


The deck would also serve as an entry and exit point or a rest stop for people using the river for recreational tubing, canoeing or kayaking, Mogensen said. Currently, there are no safe pathways leading to and from the river behind the Water Street area, he said. Pathways currently being used are steep, narrow and full of rocks. This plan calls for a safe route to and from the water.


"This will be a nice gradual path where you'll be able to walk up easily," Mogensen said.


Water Street businesses would also benefit from the construction of the deck, Mogensen said, because of its location on the bike trail. The number of people using the bike trail has been increasing. Students use the trail as a shortcut to campus. The Water Street BID board recognized this in their grant application, stating it was their mission to "create a new eco friendly space" for this increased traffic. It will enhance economic growth by serving as not only a resting point, but a gateway to the Water Street businesses, Mogensen said.


"People can come up right out of the water, walk up get a slice of pizza or something to eat," he said.


Mogensen said this plan has been in the works for years. With the increased use of the river for recreation in the last half decade or so, the Parks and Waterways Committee has endorsed the idea of making the river more accessible, he said. With that support, he hopes the plans will be approved by the City Council.

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