Eau Claire (WQOW) - Three weeks from election day in Eau Claire and there's still confusion about how much the city is being asked to contribute to the Confluence Project.
The opposition group, "Voters with Facts," has the following on its website about the Confluence Project:
The City of Eau Claire has been asked to provide:
$5,000,000 for the performing arts center
$5,900,000 for the student housing/mixed use building, complete with underground student parking
$2,600,000 - $4,100,000 for the plaza located between the student housing and the performing art center
$7,700,000 for a parking ramp at the location of the current post office
Total: $21,200,000 to $22,700,000
Developers say they're asking for half of that from the city. "The $5 million and $5.9 million are accurate," said Dan Clumpner from Commonweal Development Corp.
However, Clumpner rejects the suggestion they're asking for money for the plaza and parking ramp. "The plaza is a city project and not part of our request. The plaza project has been in the city's Capital Improvement Plan since well before the Confluence Project was conceived," said Clumpner.
Clumpner also says the $7.7 million for a parking ramp is a product of the city's agreements with RCU and JAMF. "Commitments were made independent of Confluence Project discussions. While it is disingenuous to attach the cost for this structure to the Confluence Project capital costs, the arts center will be an asset to ramp operations by generating evening and weekend event parking revenues. Our total request is $10.9 million, all to be repaid with TIF incremental revenues," said Clumpner.
Eau Claire's Own News 18 also reached out to Bob Von Haden on Tuesday. Von Haden is a city council member and a spokesperson for Voters with Facts. "The ramp would not be built just for the theater, but it is part of the overall needs of the area and therefore, it should be considered when talking about the Confluence Project. The costs were included because we were trying to show what costs will be necessary in the area to make all the projects work smoothly," said Von Haden.
Von Haden also says the city needs to do a comprehensive parking study to determine the exact needs. "Without the parking ramp, the theater may or may not have enough spaces for the needed parking now that the hotel may need the current ramp. Yes, the ramp will be shared with the businesses, but the parking spaces are needed," said Von Haden.
**On April 1st, voters will decide the fate of two referendums linked to the Confluence Project. One is a charter ordinance that would require voters to approve city spending of more than $1 million for any arts project, like the Confluence. The second is a county-wide referendum asking voters whether they support a $3.5 million pledge by the county for the project.