Taxpayers Challenged with Massive Upgrades

Nick Meyer

More news of community project fundraising efforts possibly falling short this morning in the Leader-Telegram. It’s looking as though the $6 million Hobbs Ice Center renovation plans may need a bigger contribution from the average taxpayer than originally planned since the UWEC-led fundraising effort sits at $1.2 million short of its $2 million goal. But efforts continue.

Our community groups are struggling here people. Similar shortfalls have been reported by the L.E. Phillips Memorial Public Library in their efforts to remodel and expand their old, out-of-date building. That, and other major groups including the YMCA and possibly the State Theatre are looking to make some major changes and upgrades (not to mention the County Courthouse/Jail). Then you have people who want a convention center/arena.  All these upgrades and the fact that we need them are great, but as a community we’re facing some challenges to make it all happen, as the recently completed Clear Vision project has explored.

Personally, I think our library and education systems should be the top priority here, but we know that "quality of life projects," things that greatly enhance the livability and enjoyment of our community (such as the YMCA, Ice Center, Arena, etc) are playing a bigger and bigger role in not only the day-to-day lives of happy residents, but in economic development efforts as well.

There’s quite a bit of prioritizing, strategizing, and organizing to be done if we’re all going to get what we want here. Hopefully, short of John Menard just bankrolling all of it, some more good ideas will surface soon.