Important Date: 10-21-2013 for Council Vote on Confluence project

Oct 9, 2013 6:55 p.m.

Eau Claire (WQOW) – Will the Confluence Project come together? It may not be long before we know the answer. The project will come to a vote in Eau Claire in two weeks.

Developers plan to ask the city for $10.9 million to support the downtown project. The city will present the council with what it feels is appropriate and from there, the council will decide, thumbs up or thumbs down.

A task force for the project is also taking shape. Eau Claire City Council Member Kathy Mitchell says, “This task force isn’t going to run the arts center, it’s not going to set policy. It’s simply going to decide the structure for the governing body of the arts center.”

Tuesday night, the Eau Claire City Council selected Kathy Mitchell and Eric Larsen to represent the city on a task force that will help decide how a management team for the community arts center could run. “I think people will feel a little bit more secure in the project if they know what the makeup of that council is going to be,” says Mitchell.

There will be nine members, including representatives from local arts groups, the university, and the business community. Eau Claire’s Own News 18 asked Mitchell if the creation of the group is premature, considering they haven’t voted on whether the city will commit to help pay for the project.

Mitchell says, “If it doesn’t happen in the end, I don’t think there’s anything lost because I think this will be a good exercise for us.”

The time for the city to make a decision on the project is fast approaching. Eau Claire City Manager Russ Van Gompel says, “We are trying to see if there is enough support to make a pledge, and make a pledge that is acceptable to move the project forward.”

Van Gompel says he, along with the city attorney and finance director, have been in negotiations with developers. He says, “It is a big step in the project and I think it’s one that allows the developers and our other partners with the University of Wisconsin Eau Claire to move forward in that next process.”

Van Gompel says the city council will be presented with a resolution to make a pledge to the project at its next council meeting. He couldn’t say the specifics of a dollar amount but did say it will be conditional. He says, “Yes it will be conditioned, we are willing to be a partner in this project but that partnership… we have to have all these other components fall into place in order for that to occur.”

Those conditions are unknown at this time. The lead developer says he’s not privy to what the final resolution will look like, including the provisions. He has said in the past that without city support, the $80-million project probably won’t move forward.

The city’s pledge with conditions, will go before the city council on Monday, October 21st. There will be a public hearing that night and then a vote is expected the next day.

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