Eau Claire County Supervisors remain split, undecided on 'Confluence' funding

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EAU CLAIRE COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - A debate over how to pay for a $50 million construction project continues with votes on the way.

A proposal for Eau Claire County to pay $3.5 million for the Confluence Project will be decided by the 28 supervisors on the county board.

The plan to fund the construction of a new performing arts center, student housing and retail space in downtown Eau Claire could move forward, backward or stand still when county leaders meet later this month.

Friday WEAU reached out to the entire board to find out where they stand on funding the project.

Sixteen of its 28 supervisors responded between Tuesday’s meeting and Friday. Of those, seven said they would support the proposal, four would not, three were undecided, one will abstain and another declined to comment.

“I think this is just another step of trying to create a better economic environment for the community,” District 25 Supervisor Mark Olson said.

“I think the downtown will rejuvenate over time, but trying to influx something like this in there isn't really going to draw the type of things they need to make that niche market down there,” District five Supervisor Bruce Stabenow said.

County support varies by address.

“(District five has) a lot of farm representatives, different people who don't feel they would be going downtown for (the arts center),” Stabenow said.

“This is another attraction to draw people into the Chippewa Valley area,” Olson said. “All the surrounding communities will benefit from this.”

“People need to let their representatives, know how they feel, their concerns, so when we do have our meetings, we can ask those questions, and get answers and make a decision for them.”

The Eau Claire city clerk certified a petition for a referendum on the confluence project.

The city council will either approve the resolution at its meeting next week, or send the referendum to the ballot for voters to decide this spring.

That referendum could kill the city's chance to contribute millions to the project.

The county board will meet to vote on its contribution on Jan. 21.

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