Eau Clairians will soon have a new way to enjoy the view of – and get to and from – the Chippewa River near Water Street. The Eau Claire City Council voted nearly unanimously Tuesday to OK plans by the Water Street Business Improvement District to build a 45-foot-by-30-foot overlook and deck at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Menomonie Street. The deck will be linked to the river by a pathway, which supporters say will provide access for tubers and other river users who now have limited options for getting back and forth to the water.
The deck and trail project was first suggested in 2009, but the idea had languished for five years until this spring. Now that the council has given its thumbs up, construction could begin as soon as this summer.
The project will be paid for by Water Street-area businesses, but construction required city approval. The deck and trail project was first suggested in 2009, but the idea had languished for five years until this spring. Now that the council has given its thumbs up, construction could begin as soon as this summer after backers iron out a few details with city engineers.
While the project has been promoted as a way to foster river recreation, safety worries were a sticking point in the council’s discussion. At a hearing Monday, Police Chief Jerry Staniszewski and Fire Chief Lyle Koerner expressed skepticism about increasing river access so close to taverns and strong river currents. These concerns led City Councilwoman Catherine Emmanuelle to propose an amendment at Tuesday’s meeting that would have removed the trail from the plan.
Several council members, notably Eric Larsen, a former deputy police chief, spoke strongly in favor of the amendment. Larsen said that drunk people who may be in danger of wandering into the water and drowning will do so at easy access points – such as the proposed trail – rather than by climbing down the riverbank.
However, the majority of council members said the benefits of the privately funded, publicly accessible project outweighed the potential hazards. “If you put something off limits, it creates more weird behavior,” said Councilman David Klinkhammer. “You can’t legislate morality; you can’t legislate stupidity.”
Councilwoman Kathy Mitchell agreed, saying the project is good for river users and for merchants. “We should build this trail and work to make it a safe place, partly by developing a culture of use along Water Street,” Mitchell said. She suggested installing something akin to a bike rack that tubers could tie their crafts to when they exited the river.
Ultimately, Emmanuelle’s amendment failed 7-3, and the council voted 9-1 to approve the project, with Larsen casting the lone dissenting vote.
This week (as seen on WEAU TV-13), the Eau Claire community Foundation announced that it would begin construction on a large project for Jeffers Park, located on Eau Claire’s northwest side. The Chippewa Valley Homebuilders Association has volunteered the contractor labor - to build a multi-field baseball/softball complex, complete with a pavilion, playground, and trails. Most of the money will be generated by donations and many of the youth sport leagues involved have been working diligently to raise their portion of $300,000. More announcements are supposed to be coming at an upcoming Parks and Recreation Dept. meeting. The park could open by the spring of 2015.
Look out Simba! Rumor has it that the hyenas are in town! The Irvine Park Zoo in Chippewa Falls added two hyenas to its summer line-up last week according to this Chippewa Herald article.
Hyenas, who are typically found in parts of Asia and Africa, are “dog-like carnivores” whose origins go back nearly 22 million years. The pair is currently making a home where the cougars were previously kept and will remain at the zoo until August. Among other furry friends at the zoo this summer are zebras, lemurs, grey foxes, a yak, and many more.
These lovable carnivores will be chuckling as they bask in the Wisconsin sun all summer long, so stop by and say hello. But please, no petting!
We give a lot of credit to the Chippewa Valley’s rivers for making our home here in northwestern Wisconsin what it is. Heck, we even dedicated an entire issue (and a section of our website) to our waterways.
We might not be the only ones recognizing our watery attributes, either.
We found a nice little article in the Wisconsin State Journal about a fishing trip with Dave Bakken, an Eau Claire native and avid fisherman, on the Chippewa River – right in downtown EC.
Our man Dave, along with his father Ron Bakken, has built himself a drift boat out of plywood that he uses to fish the waters around town. It’s a pretty cool piece of equipment that is 16 feet long with two identical ends you steer with oars.
If you’re into the more technical aspects of boats, this is a story for you. It’s a pretty amazing process that took the Bakkens from a drift-boat fishing trip near Hayward to fishing on their own handcrafted boat here in Eau Claire.
There’s no place like home for the Bakkens, especially when home is the quiet waters and old-school architecture of the surrounding structures that make the Chippewa River a great spot to fish.
Watch out though, the pictures accompanying this article are taken on the Eau Claire River, not the Chippewa (as stated), just a stone’s throw from the Volume One World Headquarters.
Oh, one cutline on the WSJ’s website even talks about Bakken navigating “rapids.” Perhaps that’s a little dramatic for the water running through downtown Eau Claire, but we’ll take it.
Next week is Bike to Work Week throughout the great state of Wisconsin, and Volume One is ground zero for Eau Claire's two-wheeled, pedal-powered promotion of the healthy habit. The city's official kick off event will be held on Tuesday morning at the V1 World Headquarters in downtown Eau Claire, starting at 6:30am (details below). Many Volume One staffers will be participating all week long, and we hope to post pictures and stories of getting to work on our bikes both here and on our Facebook page, so be on the look out. You may want to shield your eyes.
Learn more about Bike to Work Week here!
Bike to Work Week Kick Off Event Tuesday, May 14 • 6:30-10:30am • The Volume One World Headquarters Parking Lot (205 N. Dewey St.) • free • Sponsored by Volume One, this event features a kickoff party at 8am including free coffee/snacks, "local celebrities" riding in, local bike trees, cool custom bikes on display including pedicabs, unicycles, tandems, and vintage bikes. Also the Wisconsin Bike Fed will be on hand in full force. Pedal on over!