Confluence Project wins another vote of support - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

UPDATE: Confluence Project wins another vote of support

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Menomonie (WQOW) - A major downtown project receives backing from the entire UW - Board of Regents.

Thursday, the Capital Planning and Budget Committee, within the UW - Board of Regents, passed a resolution of support for the project, and Friday the entire board approved that vote.

As you may already know, the Confluence Project is a public private partnership that will bring student housing and a new community arts center to downtown Eau Claire. UW - Eau Claire is seeking $25 million for the arts center and $30 million for student housing.

In order to secure funding, the Board of Regents must vote to recommend the Confluence Project be a part of the 2013-15 capital budget. That vote is expected to take place in December.

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Menomonie (WQOW) - A major project for downtown Eau Claire wins another vote of support, by a group that could provide a large chunk of funding.

The Confluence Project is a public-private partnership that will bring student housing and a new community arts center, along with retail space, to downtown Eau Claire.  

The UW Board of Regents is meeting in Menomonie Thursday and Friday. Thursday afternoon, the Confluence Project made its first appearance in front of the Capital Planning and Budget Committee. 

UW – Eau Claire is ultimately seeking $25 million for the arts center and $30 million for student housing. Thursday the Capital Planning and Budget Committee unanimously passed a resolution of support, signaling they would like to see the project move forward.

"Clearly the Board of Regents unanimous vote says that they want to see us proceed, they are in favor of the project, but they need us to work through all of the details," says, Mike Rindo, with UW Eau Claire.  

The committee did have a few details they would like to see worked out before a vote in December. At that time, they'll decide whether or not to recommend the project be added to the 2013-15 capital budget.

Ed Manydeeds, with the UW Board of Regents, says, "I think you could say the board was enthusiastic about what was going on. But, like anybody else, they're not the only entity involved in this, so, they want to make sure that the other partners, the city, county, and those people that are going to be making charitable contributions, that those are all in line, before we go forward with it."

The committee would also like to see an agreement between all of the partners about how everyday operating costs will be covered once the project is complete.

Eau Claire City Council President, Kerry Kincaid, says, "There's been much discussion about the operating model of the performing arts center and that's right spot on, like the nitty gritty of who uses this bathroom and this classroom. And, who gets this stage and who pays for painting this wall."

Board member Ed Manydeeds says it is rare that the Board of Regents sees public-private partnerships like the Confluence Project, but believes they will become more common over time. 

"The state is not providing as much money as it has in the past, for many reasons, and so campuses and communities have to start looking for other ways to accomplish things such as building fine arts centers, theaters, other ways of providing things necessary for providing a top quality education," says Manydeeds.

Even after Thursday's vote of support, there are still many steps in the process. Friday, the Board of Regents, as a whole, will approve what was voted on.

For the project to actually secure funding, the Board of Regents must vote one more time. That vote should happen in December.

If approved, it would move to the governor's office and then onto the state legislature. If, on the other hand, the funding was not approved it could set the project back a couple of years, until the next budget cycle. 

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