Eau Claire County Reaffirms $3.5M Confluence Pledge
The Eau Claire County Board has once again given a thumbs-up to its $3.5 million pledges toward the Confluence Project’s performing arts center in downtown Eau Claire. In a 21-5 vote Tuesday evening, the board reaffirmed the pledge, which had originally been made in January 2014. The performing arts center, which is slated to open in 2018, will be shared by UW-Eau Claire and community groups.
The resolution “gives us a change to keep our word,” county Supervisor Colleen Bates said, according to the Leader-Telegram. “I can’t recall in all of my years of living in Eau Claire that there has been this kind of philanthropic response that we’re seeming for this project at this time.”
Why did the county board repeat its earlier vote? In the year and a half since the original pledge, the scope and funding mix of the project has changed. Most notably, the county’s $3.5 million pledge was originally contingent on a $25 million commitment from the state. However, this summer the state instead set aside $15 million for the project in its 2015-17 budget – a commitment that itself was contingent on a $15 million match from philanthropic donations and other local public and private sources. Under the newly approved county resolution, the county’s pledge is now also contingent on that $15 million in philanthropy and local funding, a goal that seems within reach: Fundraising for the project recently passed the $10 million mark, and this week another major pledge – $50,000 from Security Financial Bank – was made toward the project.
Meanwhile, work continues on the privately funded mixed-use portion of the project, which is rising on South Barstow Street near the confluence of the Eau Claire and Chippewa Rivers.