Property owners see latest plans to reconstruct S. Barstow St.

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) – The reconstruction planning of S. Barstow Street in Eau Claire is underway. It’s an area that some consider the heart of the city.

The project streets from Lake Street to the Eau Claire River on S. Barstow.

Wednesday night, property owners were presented plans on what the street could look like by the end of the summer.

Brian Amundson, the director of public works says the street hasn’t been redone since 1971 and because it’s one of the busiest roads, reconstruction is needed.

“The street is in poor condition. It needs to be rebuilt so the focus is on to really rebuild the street and sidewalks from building to building in that five block area,” said Amundson.

Hugh Passow is the owner of Antique Emporium. He’s been downtown since 1974.

“I started at 17 S. Barstow Street when I was in college, moved a few times since then, now I’ve been at my location for 28 years,” said Passow who was among dozens of property owners at the public information meeting.

Passow said the plans presented Wednesday were an improvement from the first time the plans were introduced.

“I was very worried about the sidewalks being brick pavers next to our building because it’s very hard to shovel that stuff in the winter and take care of it,” said Passow.

Other concerns include loading zones. When deliverers come in with shipment for businesses, there are designated zones for them to unload. With reconstruction, some changes may have to be made.

“Property owners are concerned about the construction staging and scheduling to make sure we limit any disruption to them during the construction. I think the issue of loading zone is something to work on,” said Amundson.

The project construction would go from June to August 2013.

Amundson said based on what the people on S. Barstow want, the street will go with a more “natural” look rather than industrial. Additional trees, different types and colors of pavement, more natural-style benches and new street lights with a tear-drop fixture and LED lighting are among the plans.

“You need a community, you need a center where people can come to and do things. Going out to the mall or outside area is not the same thing. It’s truly the heart of the city and they need that,” said Passow.

Among concerns is the cost of the project which would add up to $1.7 million.

“Property owners are going to be asked to pay about 1/3 of the cost of the actual improvements and those get charged back to the property owners so they can put it on their property taxes but it’s actually the special assessment,” said Amundson.

The next step is a public hearing at City Hall on Monday, February 11th. The following day, the city will talk about bids to reconstruct S. Barstow and to get a better idea of the cost.

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