Confluence Project supporters say now the real work begins

By: Megan Lowry Email
By: Megan Lowry Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis Backers of the proposed Confluence Project say they are pleased with the results of the Tuesday’s election. James Hanke with' Voices for Growth' says it’s clear the community supports making an investment in downtown Eau Claire.

On Tuesday, City of Eau Claire voters voted against requiring a referendum every time the city wants to spend $1 million or more on a building project involving the arts. Eau Claire County voters said "yes" to spending $3.5 million on the Confluence Project.

With 60 out of 60 Eau Claire city precincts reporting, 8,095 voters said "no" to requiring a referendum. 5,584 voters cast ballots of "yes." The decision was, in effect, to allow city council members to decide how to best spend city funds in those situations.

Hanke says now the real work begins.

“What’s next is really positioning the University to be a part of the upcoming budget at the state level and assuring the dollars are forth coming from the state for the university’s portion. We still have dollars to raise philanthropically and locally in the community, so we have a lot of work to do,” Hanke said.

Hanke says as financial details get solidified he hopes any question the public still has on the proposed project will be answered.

At a press conference at Volume one Eau Claire Regional Arts director Ben Richgruber spoke about philanthropic needs. " Locally these is still more that we need to do. We've got to raise the money to do this. Philanthropy is a big part of this and out is $15 million. We've raised five so we have 10 more to go," said Richgruber.

The next big deadline for the project is August when the the University Board of Regents decides whether to recommend setting aside state money for the project to the Legislature and Governor Walker.

City Council President Kerry Kincaid says they plan is to break ground on the project in late spring/summer of 2016.

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