Wausau Revitalizes Infrastructure and Education with Lead Line Replacement, Foundry Project, and Fab Lab Grant

Wausau's lead service line replacement program is underway, aiming to replace 2,885 properties' lead lines, with 440 found eligible so far. The city is also seeing progress on the Foundry on 3rd project and a fab lab grant for Mosinee Elementary School.

Aqsa Younas Rana
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Wausau Revitalizes Infrastructure and Education with Lead Line Replacement, Foundry Project, and Fab Lab Grant

Wausau Revitalizes Infrastructure and Education with Lead Line Replacement, Foundry Project, and Fab Lab Grant

The city of Wausau is making significant strides in infrastructure improvements and educational opportunities in 2024. The Wausau City Lead Service Line Replacement Program, funded by the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, is underway to replace lead service lines that carry water from the street to homes. About 2,885 properties in the city are eligible for funding, with 1,253 properties verified so far and 440 (35%) found to have service lines eligible for replacement.

Why this matters: The replacement of lead service lines is crucial for public health, as lead contamination can have severe and long-lasting effects on children's cognitive development and overall health. This initiative sets a precedent for other cities to prioritize infrastructure upgrades, ultimately contributing to a safer and healthier environment for their residents.

The program is expected to boost the local skilled workforce and expand over the next five years, with a goal of total removal of lead service lines citywide. Homeowners can perform a self-verification to determine if their home has a lead service line by submitting a photo of their water meter and service line through leadfreewausau.com/self-verification.

In addition to the lead service line replacement program, the Foundry on 3rd project, a five-story, 154-unit apartment and retail complex, is on pace to meet its June 1 construction start date. The over $40 million project, developed by Middleton developer T Wall Enterprises and Wausau Opportunity Zone, will be built on the southeast corner of North Third and Washington streets in downtown Wausau. It will include studio, one-, two-, and three-bedroom units, over 17,000 feet of commercial space, underground parking, an interior courtyard, and coworking spaces.

Meanwhile, a city-wide property revaluation has raised residential property values by more than 50% and commercial property values by about 20%. The revaluation was triggered by Wisconsin statutes, which require taxing districts to maintain property values within 10% of market rate. While the total amount of property taxes levied by the city will not change, the burden will shift slightly more toward residential taxpayers.

In the realm of education, Mosinee Elementary School has received a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) for a fabrication laboratory (fab lab). The fab lab will provide students with access to high-tech production equipment, including a 3Doodlers classroom set, an AquaSprouts aquarium garden system, a weather station, and 3D and Bambu printers. The equipment will be on wheels to be easily moved when needed and is expected to increase student engagement in science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) fields.

The city of Wausau is taking proactive steps to improve infrastructure, revitalize downtown, and enhance educational opportunities in 2024. The lead service line replacement program, Foundry on 3rd project, and Mosinee Elementary School fab lab grant demonstrate the city's commitment to creating a safer, more vibrant community while investing in the future of its residents.

Key Takeaways

  • Wausau replaces 2,885 lead service lines to ensure public health and safety.
  • Foundry on 3rd project brings 154 apartments and retail space to downtown Wausau.
  • City-wide property revaluation raises residential values by 50% and commercial by 20%.
  • Mosinee Elementary School receives $25,000 grant for fabrication laboratory (fab lab).
  • Wausau invests in infrastructure, downtown revitalization, and education in 2024.