New disc golf course greenlighted
RIVER FALLS – The River Falls City Council approved a resolution Tuesday, Oct. 12 establishing ward boundaries and aldermanic districts for the City of River Falls.
Planning & Engineering Technician Tyle Galde gave the council a presentation on redistricting, which happens every 10 years after a census. Redistricting accounts for population changes and the proper representation of voters, Galde said.
Pierce and St. Croix counties received census data on Aug. 16, which was severely delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. St. Croix County has 19 county board supervisors and a population of 93,536, while Pierce County has 17 county board supervisors and a population of 42,212. The City of River Falls’ population is now 16,192 with four aldermanic districts. The ideal number of people in each aldermanic district would be 4,048. Ward populations should be between 600 and 1,200 people.
According to the 2020 Census data, the City of River Falls grew 7.9% in the past decade, adding 1,182 new residents. Pierce County grew 2.9%, adding 1,193 new residents; St. Croix County grew 10.9%, adding about 9,200 new residents.
St. Croix County Supervisory District 10 encompasses the city’s St. Croix County portion, and parts of the towns of Troy and Kinnickinnic.
Pierce County approved a map with five supervisor districts covering River Falls; four are entirely within in the city and one also covers a part of River Falls Township. By law, the city was required to establish ward boundaries and return its plans to the counties no later than Oct. 18. Aldermanic districts must be completed by Nov. 23. Galde said city staff had four goals during the redistricting process:
•Aldermanic District 1 would no longer be split between two counties;
•All on-campus university students would vote in one location; •Minimize the overlap of aldermanic and supervisory districts;
•Keep current alderpersons in their current districts.
Challenges included the compressed timeline, considering new and future development and adhering to Census blocks and supervisory district lines, Galde said.
The city aldermanic districts are as follows: 1 – Wards 1-5, population 3,636, all within St. Croix County, polling location: River Falls Public Library 2 – Wards 10-13, population 4,360, polling location: UWRF-Falcon Center 3 – Wards 6-9, population 4,119, polling location: River Falls City Hall 4 – Wards 14-18, population 4,067, polling location: River Falls High School Wards comprising Aldermanic District 1 are all located in St. Croix County, which removes current city residents who reside in Pierce County from the district. This area has been identified as having potential growth and development in the future. Therefore, the decision was made to keep the wards and district population lower to allow for the possible expansion.
The wards comprising Aldermanic District 2 represent neighborhoods in the southeast and the university. Ward 10 includes most of the residence halls for UW – River Falls, and is included in one census block: therefore, creating a ward with an inflated population. The state allows population variation of wards, if necessary, to accommodate census block limits, supervisory district boundaries and aldermanic district boundaries.
The area including Woodridge and Southridge moved to Aldermanic District 4 due to population growth in this area, according to census data.
The wards comprising Aldermanic District 3 represent neighborhoods central to the city from east to west in Pierce County. The Pierce County residents who resided in Aldermanic District 1 in the current districting will now be a part of Aldermanic District 3.
The wards making up Aldermanic District 4 represent neighborhoods east and southeast. These boundaries were impacted the most, absorbing residents who resided in Aldermanic District 2 and Aldermanic District 3. This district is the only district that crosses three supervisory districts. Drawing ward/district lines as proposed will allow for the growth to make the districts closer in size over time.
Disc golf course
The city council unanimously approved a resolution allowing the River Falls Disc Golf Course community group to use approximately 12 acres known as Sterling Hill for a disc golf course. The course will be adjacent to the Sterling Ponds residential development. The city doesn’t anticipate developing the land anytime soon due to the steep terrain.
In Summer 2019, Andrew Reese, a member of RFDGC, approached the city about possibilities for an 18-hole disc golf course on city property. The city settled on Sterling Hill as the best option. Reese and other volunteers consulted with the Parks & Recreation Advisory Board, which endorsed the project on Sept. 16, 2020.
For the past two years, the group has worked on site preparation by removing debris and brush, including buckthorn. The Department of Natural Resources greenlighted the land use in July, allowing for more formal development to begin.
The RFDGC group plans to raise money for the initial build, estimated to be about $9,000. Volunteers will install tee pads, baskets and trails, with a soft opening planned in Fall 2022. Once the course opens to the public, the city will provide garbage and recycling containers and a portable restroom. Parking will be allowed along Old Jersey Road with access granted from Huppert Street. The project will be funded completely by grants or donations.
The group also plans to potentially organize into a more formal group to sustain the course’s care and maintenance.
The council approved a set of resolutions related to the proposed senior living development called The Sycamore, slated to be built in the 700 block of South Main Street.
•Resolution approving a purchase agreement between the city and Frisbie Properties LLC
•Resolution approving the preparation of a quit claim deed and transfer of Lot 4 to Best Key Properties LLC
•Resolution approving the Certified Survey Map for The Sycamore of River Falls Senior Housing Development City staff has been working with Matt Frisbie since Summer 2020 on a redevelopment project which includes an 84unit senior and independent living facility with assisted living and memory care. In addition, four 55-plus independent living patio townhomes will be built at 706 Sycamore St.
The main building will include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units, staff offices, conference rooms, lobby spaces, dining rooms, a full commercial kitchen, fitness room, entertainment and gathering rooms, a medical consult room, laundry rooms, beauty parlor, spa room with therapy tub and many support spaces. The underground parking lot will hold 50 parking stalls, maintenance rooms and a resident storage area. Ebenezer Management Services will manage the community.
As part of a negotiated part of the new Tax Increment District, East Park Street will be realigned to intersect with West Park Street. To do this, Frisbie bought the two homes at 660 and 684 S. Main St. and demolished them; the city agreed to buy the two properties within 90 days of the demolitions. The agreed upon price was $500,000, taken from the General Reserve Fund, will be reimbursed from TID 18 at a later date.
East Park Street will be located on part of those two properties and the portions of the lots not used will be deeded back to River Falls QOZB LLC.
The Marzolf Company, Inc. will purchase four acres of land from the city at 265 Mound View Road for $280,000. The land is located in the River Falls Industrial Park.
The city purchased the whole property (totaling 7 acres) from Johnson Kellogg Properties LLC in 2018 for $420,000. At that time the city identified the property as a possibility for a combined public safety facility. However, the police department has moved into the former RiverTown building at 2815 Prairie Drive, and a location near Hoffman Park has been identified as a possible spot for a future fire station.
The Marzolf Company, Inc. manufactures MARZOLF flanges and backing rings for the fluid process industries. It’s currently located in the town of River Falls off County Road W. The company wants to expand its light industrial manufacturing facility by building a 10,000- to 15,000square-foot building within the next two years and moving into the city will allow more production space and faster, more reliable internet. The company currently employs eight people, but would like to expand.
•Management Analyst Fellow Kathryn Paquet reported River Falls’ population has increased from 15,000 in the 2010 Census to 16,182 in the 2020 Census.
•The council adopted a resolution appointing Tracy Biederman as interim city treasurer, effective Oct. 12, 2021. Sarah Karlsson recently resigned from the position, leaving it and the finance director position vacant. The treasurer’s duties include managing investments, banking, property tax roll and collections. The city hired Biederman on Sept. 12, 2011 as an accountant and promoted her in February 2021 to accounting manager/deputy treasurer.
•The council adopted a resolution approving the land use agreement between the Kinnickinnic River Land Trust and the city. KRLT purchased 40 acres in the lower Kinnickinnic River canyon downstream from the city, which contains 1,500 feet of river frontage and the mouth of the Rocky Branch. The purchase connects the River Falls School Forest to Glen Park and River Hills Park. This parcel is now known as the Community Forest.
•The council approved a resolution authorizing city to staff to apply for the Wisconsin DNR Urban Forestry Grant, which provides 50% reimbursement for expenses related to emerald ash borer mitigation in 2022. The maximum grant award is $25,000.
•The council approved a resolution approving health and dental insurance renewals. Employees will transition to Medica for health insurance in 2022, resulting in a 4.92% plan cost increase. Employees will have dental insurance through HealthPartners, resulting in a 5% savings.
•The council adopted a resolution authorizing a license agreement with Bret Vanblaircom of Bret Vanblaircom and Artisan Builders for a portion of the land at 707 St. Croix St. The city owns the vacant lot at this location and will provide access for future infrastructure work. Vanblaircom, the current tenant at 709 St. Croix St., would like to place a large storage container and utility trailer on the northeast corner of the lot. In exchange, Vanblaircom will perform weed control and snow removal on the city lot. The agreement is on a month-to-month basis.