Questioning the Locals: Steve Plaza

free-wheelin’ discussions with local folks

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

Eau Claire has so many beautiful outdoor amenities, but have you ever wondered who takes care of them? Enter Steve Plaza: the Parks, Forestry, Cemetery, Building & Grounds Manager for the City of Eau Claire. Steve graduated from UW-La Crosse – and played football there! – in the 1980s. He has two adult sons who live in Minnesota, enjoys golfing, Western movies, and spending as much time a he can with his family.

A lot of people find cemeteries creepy. What are your thoughts?

I oversee both city cemeteries in Eau Claire and I don’t find them creepy at all.  Many people find them peaceful and a place to reflect about a loved one. Memories make us rich, and many people find this a great place to clear their minds and think about what is really important in their lives. I do however understand that they also make some people feel uncomfortable.

What is your favorite Eau Claire park?

We have a lot of great parks in Eau Claire, but Rod and Gun is a great place to spend a day with your family.

What are you passionate about?

I have two grown adult boys who I am very proud of. They have great careers of their own. ... I love golf, John Wayne Western movies, and I love spending time with my family and watching football on Sunday afternoons.   

What frustrates you about the Chippewa Valley?

I have lived in the Chippewa Valley only 2½ years, and I haven’t found anything that frustrates me. We are blessed with great parks and activities, beautiful scenery, friendly people, and a great choice of restaurants and bars. I guess if I had a frustration it could be moved closer to Green Bay so it isn’t a long drive to see a game, but 2½ hours isn’t too bad. 

Death bed, one meal from a local restaurant, what would it be?

It’s hard to beat a good burger or burrito, but since it’s my last meat I will be going down with a smile on my face. I would eat a burger from Fox Run and for dessert I would get a steak burrito from Roadside Café and with my second dessert, a vanilla dilly bar dipped in chocolate. Since it’s my last meal I am entitled to a second dessert; that should last me for eternity.

What is your favorite piece of local trivia?

I was told (don’t know if it can be verified) that a circus came through town in the early 1900s and an elephant died so they buried it in University Park. I hope someone knows if this is true or not; it’s still a great story even if it isn’t true. (Editor’s note: The story is true, although the elephant’s final resting place was apparently on Hogeboom Street.)

What sort of economic development would you like to see in our area?

Our town is growing rapidly and with that comes increased services. I wish I was more educated on what business and industries are needed in Eau Claire, but I will let our economic department figure that out. It will be nice when the Cannery Park gets completed along the Chippewa River which I believe will spur on business and housing in the area. 

Steve’s Shoutouts

The water wheel in Rod & Gun Park. “How can you not sit near it and feel at peace?”

Carson Park Playground, Train Ride Logging & Historical Museums. “How can you not hear the laughter of children and adults and not feel joy in your heart?”

Looking down the FIRST tee box on any golf course. “How can you not feel challenged?”