Eau Claire (WQOW) - The next step in a big downtown development project did not come easy Monday night. The Eau Claire City Council was set to go behind closed doors to discuss the Confluence Project, but a few council members put on the brakes.
The confluence project would bring student housing, retail space and a community arts center to downtown Eau Claire. Developers are still hoping for a $10 million commitment from the city to help make it happen. Monday night, the council was scheduled to go into closed session to negotiate the terms of a possible development agreement, but two new council members raised concerns, which led to a 20-minute discussion.
"I would like to have this discussion in front of the public, and I campaigned and heard many comments that this council is not listening, making decisions behind closed doors, and if this project is going to be successful, I'd like us to stay transparent and include the citizens in this. I don't believe that we have anything to hide, and I vote that we do not go into closed session on this item," said City Council member Monica Lewis.
"It is not the case that there has been no public input. We sat in this room, we held a public discussion, we held a public hearing, we rezoned the property, we have a general development plan. We have been there. It's time to move on, we're ready to start a development agreement, and I'm sorry that you weren't here for that, but the rest of us were, so you can't say that there hasn't been public input. The whole rezoning process is a big public input event," said Kathy Mitchell, another Eau Claire City Council member.
A motion to postpone Monday night's closed session failed by a vote of 7 to 3. The council then met behind closed doors.
No public announcement was expected after tonight's closed session. A work session focusing on the confluence project will be held on July 15th. That meeting will be open to the public.
Eau Claire (WQOW) - Eau Claire's Confluence Project is being discussed behind closed doors Tuesday night.
The city council will negotiate the terms of a possible development agreement with organizers. The Confluence Project would bring student housing, retail space and a community arts center to downtown Eau Claire.
At last check, developers are still hoping for a $10 million commitment from the city. That's one of many things that could be discussed in closed session. A city council member said most of them are in, "an uncomfortable position right now." They have lots of questions about the project and are not ready to make a decision yet.
No public announcement is expected Tuesday. An open forum may be held on July.