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Prescott looking to revitalize riverfront

Prescott residents are invited to an open house 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 14 at the Prescott Municipal Building (800 Borner St.) focusing on the revitalization of the Prescott riverfront. File photo

Prescott officials are looking to start what could be a years-long process to revitalize the city's aging riverfront area and improve on its downtown.

City officials described some of the possible projects as improving on poor signage throughout the town, refurbishing an aging riverfront area and implementing outdoor trails. Before any of these projects can begin to be discussed for funding or design level, community members are being asked to share their thoughts on a variety of basic concepts at a Nov. 14 open house.

"Go to any other city along the river, Stillwater, Hudson ... you have to maintain that riverfront," said Bailey Ruona, the city's at-large alderperson and Prescott's Parks and Public Property committee chair. "It hasn't been ... it just needs to get managed."

Ruona, who works as vice president of operations for Lakeville-based company Mark Elliot Homes, has been working on the project since just after she was elected in April, and said the city would rely on grand funding to finance the projects.

Until community feedback comes in on how to prioritize any projects, the city and its engineering design partner Cedar Corporation can't begin to put together engineering plans, Ruona said. Any projects' budgets are undetermined until the process gets further along, she said.

The projects are focused on three different sections of the city — the bridge, riverfront dock area and riverfront boat area, she said.

"Right now, we're focusing on the riverfront because there's a lot of maintenance down there that we need to focus on," Ruona said.

Ruona has been intrigued by Wisconsin Department of Natural Resource grants that would open the doors for building out trails that connect to existing ones. Other projects could include replacing docks, expanded greenspace and improved walkways.

The process originally started over five years ago when a city effort developed a master plan to refurbish the riverfront, said Mayor David Hovel.

Then, Hovel was a council member and he said he considered it too expensive to undertake, but the current effort will help make them more affordable and worth exploring.

The city could pair tax increment funding and grant funding together for them, he said.

The uncertain nature of the grant funding puts a solid timeline up in the air, but it was important to get the process started with community input so the city could apply for grants.

"My guess is that in the next three to five years the TIFs will be doing well enough to use some of that money," Hovel said. "If we pair some grant money we can do that."

The Nov. 14 open house will allow participants to write in what they want to see for projects in the three areas of focus, Ruona said. A similar open house-style event soliciting feedback on the city's downtown would likely happen sometime in the summer of next year.

"We're letting everybody come and have a voice on this," she said. "We're going to have to be strategic and tactical on it."

The open house is from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday Nov. 14 at the Prescott Municipal Building (800 Borner St.)