City council passes resolution that pledges $5 million to Confluence Project

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

 It is a big step forward for the Confluence Project. On Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council voted to pledge $5 million dollars toward making the project a reality.
 

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- It is a big step forward for the Confluence Project. On Tuesday, the Eau Claire City Council voted to pledge $5 million dollars toward making the project a reality.

There are three conditions to getting that money - the state needs to put forward $25 million dollars, there needs to be a foundation set up to handle any operational shortfalls and more private donations to keep the project sustainable.

There was one other condition that received considerable attention at Wednesday's meeting, and by an 8-3 vote, did not make it into the final resolution. That was whether the result of a referendum should have an impact on whether the city needs to honor its pledge.

Ben Richgruber, the Executive Director of the Eau Claire Regional Arts Council, says more than 50% of the people who use the State Theatre do not live in the city, so a referendum does not capture everyone's opinion.

"Keeping this off a referendum and moving forward as the council did tonight, allows those voices to be heard as they can reach out and contact these council members," he said.

The city's attorney says based on case law, the pledge could override a referendum since a condition was not put in the legislation.

But council member Monica Lewis disagrees and says making the referendum part of the resolution would have allowed concerned citizens to have a direct voice.

"I feel bad for the people that asked the council to give them the chance to vote on this and be heard, and I don't think we did right by them," she said.


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