Eau Claire denies new Kwik Trip, Altoona accepts one as gas price debate continues

By: Joe Nelson Email
By: Joe Nelson Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wisc. (WEAU) - A new Kwik Trip was denied in Eau Claire this week, while another was just approved in Altoona.

A five to five Eau Claire city council vote ended Kwik Trip's plan to put a gas station on Mall Drive in southeast Eau Claire.

With eight votes needed for the plan to move forward, council member Larry Balow said he voted no, and won't vote to approve a new Kwik Trip or a Holiday gas station anywhere in the city, to keep gas prices down without an explanation of why the prices are higher than neighboring cities.

"There's absolutely no competition! So until you develop some competition, we're going to be held hostage to high gas prices in Eau Claire," Balow said.

It's an argument five council members disagreed with.

"Kwik trip would provide jobs and they're good jobs." "Anyone that thinks the city council can control gas prices by denying annexation is not being logical," council member Kathy Mitchell said. "We don't know why (gas prices are) higher here."

"We need to sit down and have a serious discussion why there can be a ten cent difference between Eau Claire and Osseo, and if you can give me a good reason why, maybe I'll change my opinion," she said.

"We probably would not participate in that discussion," Kwik Trip director of corporate communications John McHugh said. "We just don't talk about our pricing structure."

Some area business owners said it's a missed opportunity for more customers.

"I'd like to see the gas prices go down, but I don't think by preventing a Kwik Trip coming into the area, that it's going to have that effect," Shawn Rauckman co-owner of Salon Professional Academy, said.

But McHugh said the new Altoona location has nothing to do with being denied in Eau Claire.

"It was not a knee jerk reaction to what happened in Eau Claire," he said.

McHugh said it has not decided whether it will reapply to come to this area.

Balow said he'd likely approve the plan if any company other than Kwik Trip or Holiday made the request.


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