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NEW INFORMATION: UW-System Board of Regents approves support of Confluence Project

By: Kevin Hurd and WEAU 13 News Staff Email
By: Kevin Hurd and WEAU 13 News Staff Email

MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) – The UW-System Board of Regents has unanimously voted to support the Confluence Project, a plan that would dramatically change the face of downtown Eau Claire.

A UW-Eau Claire spokesman says the board made its decision late Friday morning. It happened during its two-day visit to UW-Stout.

On Thursday, board member Ed Manydeeds of Eau Claire told WEAU 13 News he has heard many things about the project, but now he's seen firsthand all of the hard work come together.

The UW-System's share of the project is $55,000,000. It would bring an arts center, retail shopping area, and student housing to downtown.

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Menomonie, Wis. (WEAU) -- It was a big step forward for Eau Claire's Confluence Project Thursday at UW-Stout, where the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents got their first in-depth explanation about the Confluence Project.

Mike Rindo, UW-Eau Claire's Assistant Chancellor made the presentation, laying out the details of the project, and fielded questions.

"The regents asked a lot of good questions," he said.

One of the questions that came up had to do with historic buildings near the river. There is still debate about whether they should stand.

Rindo told the Capital and Budget Committee it is still being discussed, but said the project could go forward if the buildings stay. It would just mean a difference in the amount of retail space and student housing.

"There is a lot of energy and time that people put into this, and that impressed me," said Ed Manydeeds, a member of the UW Board of Regents.

During the presentation, he made a comment that got a lot of attention, saying the Confluence Project area was a place where culture and ideas were exchanged hundreds of years ago, making it a fitting place for arts and education.

"His remarks were very moving in my opinion," Rindo added.

If the board votes to support the project, supporters hope it will be included in the UW System's Capital Budget recommendations for 2013-2015. From there, it would go to the legislature for approval.

There are many more steps ahead for the complex project, but right now Eau Claire City Council President Kerry Kincaid says local and regional support is key.

"Those two mighty forces coming together will certainly spur people to invest money and work out the details of this project," she added.

The Board of Regents will vote Friday on the resolution to support the project. The UW System would be responsible for $55 million of the Confluence Project.

Rindo says since it has already passed committee, it is likely to get approved by the full board.

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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The UW Board of Regents met at University of Wisconsin-Stout Thursday and are again meeting Friday.

Part of their agenda includes voting whether to approve supporting a $55 million stake in the Confluence Project.

On Thursday, the capital and budget committee got to hear from UW-Eau Claire on why this project would be a good investment for the UW Regents to consider.

UW-Eau Claire assistant chancellor for facilities Mike Rindo explained the project to the board Thursday afternoon.

Throughout the presentation, there were also comments from other supporters that came to the meeting.

The capital and budget committee did vote to go ahead and put their support behind the project.

On Friday the vote will go before the full Board of Regents.
Rindo says typically when a committee approves a resolution; the whole board also adopts it. He says it would be unusual for it not to pass.


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