Open house on proposed North Barstow Parking Structure to be held July 10

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- An open house is aimed at releasing more details on the proposed North Barstow Parking Structure.

It's on Thursday, July 10 in the Royal Credit Union Community Room on Riverfront Terrace. The proposed parking ramp would go on a property that currently houses the post office on North Barstow Street. On Thursday, City Manager Russell Van Gompel sent us a breakdown of the design costs for the ramp, which total more than $404,000. You can see those figures on the right side of this story.

"Nothing is new on the construction cost side of things," Van Gompel said in an email Thursday.

In April, engineering staff presented two options for the ramp to the City Council. Both options call for a four-floor ramp, with 520 parking spaces. Each proposal was believed to cost nearly $10,000,000. On Thursday, Van Gompel said in email that the $10,000,000 figure included additional road work along potential extensions of Galloway Street and Hobart Street. He added that he thinks it might be prudent to focus on the design and exact footprint, which would then let the city better project the total cost.

He said the open house does not replace the public hearing that the City Council chose to hold in a decision it made in June.

"This is just one more step to help us formulate a design that might be acceptable, and then we'll have a public hearing after that," Van Gompel said.

The ramp would meet a provision in the city's development agreement with RCU and JAMF Software. It calls for the city to provide 150 parking spaces within close proximity of those buildings. Voters With Facts, a group that has been critical of the costs involved in building the ramp, has said that it favors surface parking as the best option for the city, the businesses, and taxpayers.

The open house is from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The City of Eau Claire says its parking ramp consultant is also holding a two-day workshop on July 9 and 10. Members of the City Council can meet with the consultant to review the progress of the proposal. Van Gompel said the goal is to "further refine and hopefully build consensus on one preferred configuration."

Van Gompel said he believes the public hearing would likely be held in August or September. A vote would follow. If the proposal is approved, the city could gather bids in December of this year or January 2015. Construction could then start in the spring of 2015.

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