Eau Claire (WQOW) - Tuesday, voters approved a county referendum and rejected a city charter ordinance, both decisions represent a show of support for the Confluence Project.
There's a lot that must happen before the downtown development becomes a reality: money needs to be raised, plans must be submitted and there's an important meeting outside of Eau Claire on the horizon this summer. WQOW News 18 spoke with developers Wednesday about what's next.
Dan Clumpner, with Commonweal Development, says, "I think it's a moment of historic proportions and it speaks very well for the future of Eau Claire."
The referendum results are final, but the Confluence Project finish line is still a ways off.
Dr. Jim Schmidt, the Chancellor of UW-Eau Claire, says, "It's very unusual to have a referendum kind of at the beginning of the process and so a lot of people think it's a done deal but the work is just beginning."
"We're going to meet first with the staffs at the city and the county and start addressing some of the issues and questions that we have with those. And then, as quickly as possible, start discussing the state's role," says Clumpner.
Project developers are seeking $25 million from the state for the arts center. Schmidt says, "Over a year ago, the Board of Regents did vote unanimously in support of the idea. So, they have heard this before. They gave us the blessing to go forward and have the conversation with the community."
Clumpner says, "The state has always said, get your community pieced together, and we'll sit down. And, the community is well pieced together and we're ready to sit down."
And developers are certain the results of the referendum questions will send a strong message. "For legislatures it'd be hard to look at these results and not say this really is the community will. I know our chances today are an awful lot better than they were yesterday and if for any reason it doesn't happen it's not going to be for lack of effort," says Clumpner.
UW-Eau Claire's request for capital funding will go before the Board of Regents in August. Supporters will continue raising money. They have about $10 million left to meet a philanthropy goal.
We're also still waiting for a presentation on a proposed budget for the community arts center. That should be released later this month.