Museum tax debate continues | Weekly Wausonian
Wausau news for Feb. 9, 2023
The debate over whether the Wausau Museum of Contemporary Art ought to pay taxes — or payments in lieu of — continues.
WMOCA founded the museum in the former Wausau Club, which was city-owned and dilapidated prior to his buying and renovating it. Hummer on the advice of his attorneys put the building into an LLC to avoid potential risk - but that set him up to pay city taxes on the property.
Hummer planned to transfer the building to the art museum’s non-profit status, but according to an agreement he signed, the city and Hummer agreed that if the property was ever transferred that payments in lieu of taxes would kick in.
Members of the Economic Development Committee are split on the issue. Member Tom Kilian says Hummer signed the agreement, and that the city should stop waiving its agreements that protect the taxpayer.
But member Lisa Rasmussen said none of the other art museums pay taxes, so it doesn’t make sense to make Hummer pay them. She also points out that WMOCA doesn’t take any room tax money like other arts non-profits do, despite bringing in room nights.
The committee wants to gather more information and make sure Hummer can be present at the meeting before making a decision.
Subscribers this week read more details about who pushed for the last-minute Granite Peak amendment:
What else in Wausau?
Leaving River Drive: County departments are preparing to move out of the River Drive offices as the Greater Wausau Prosperity Partnership eyes the area for development. Parks Director Jamie Polley says they are looking for a new home for their ten employees this year. The city unveiled concept plans to redevelop the area with more apartments, a four-season farmers market and a pedestrian bridge that traverses from the JC Penney parking ramp to the waterfront. County Administrator Lance Leonhard tells The Wausonian that the plan for the move still needs to be presented to the county board. (Corrected: Clarified that the city, not WOZ or GWPP, developed the south riverfront plans though WOZ has already pursued developing the pedestrian bridge.)
Park cleanup: City officials say cleanup at Riverside Park should happen this spring. City officials have a plan, developed through environmental engineering firm REI, and just need DNR approval before bidding out the work. The plan includes removing top soil and replacing it with clean soil, among other items. Residents in the Thomas Street neighborhood sounded the alarm about potential contamination in the park and throughout the neighborhood, which was once an industrial area.
Stun gun incident: Police responded to reports of a 10-year-old student at Thomas Jefferson with an electronic weapon last week. Police confiscated a stun gun from a 10-year-old after another student reported that the student had the device. The student did not appear to threaten anyone or zap anyone with it, police say. The student (police did not reveal the student’s gender) will be turned over to the department of social services and will likely face additional consequences from the school.
Riverlife eddy: After a condo project by local developers was scrapped by the city last year, Wausau officials say they will hold off seeking further proposals for the site for now. City leaders terminated an agreement with Viegut, Riveron and Ohde to develop condos on one of the Riverlife parcels after multiple delays and revisions to the original approved project. Community Development Director Liz Brodek says the city would still entertain proposals for the site if there is interest but isn’t going to specifically seek them out right now.
Around the Metro
Closed for Seniors: SentryWorld Golf Course will remain closed until the end of the US Senior Open Championships, which concludes July 2. SentryWorld officials say they want to keep the course in tip-top shape ahead of the Senior Open. It’s the first senior open the Stevens Point course has hosted, and the third USGA event the premiere course has hosted.
Weekend shooting under investigation: Marathon County Sheriff’s Office officials say they’re investigating a shooting that occurred over the weekend in the town of Wausau. Police say they suspect Desmond Mayo, 29, shot a 38-year-old man several times. The man then drove himself to the hospital to be treated. Deputies say there is no danger to the public, but do say Mayo is still at large, and should be considered armed and dangerous. They say he’s left the state.
Polish transformation: The former Garden Pancake House location (and before that, Perkins) already has a new business opening up shop soon: Rodzina. Meaning “family” in Polish, Rodzina appears to be a Polish restaurant, which makes this Kowalski very happy. Garden Pancake House opened post-pandemic and abruptly closed, leaving the public and even employees scratching their heads.
Angelo’s revival: The grandson of the founder of Angelo’s Pizza will be reviving the business. Elliot Johnson plans to reopen Angelo’s next month. The business had transitioned to only selling frozen versions of its pizzas last year.
Saturday, Feb. 11: This is something I didn’t think we would ever see again in Wausau: The Blueheels are making their return to Malarkey’s Pub! It’s hard to explain what’s great about the Blueheels — their layered sound has been described as alt-country but even that description falls flat. OnMilwaukee once called them the best band in Wisconsin (in all fairness, that was 2008). They have a tendency to disappear for awhile, say they’re breaking up, only to re-emerge and cause a stir. At any rate, you just don’t want to miss this show. 8 pm. $10 cover.
Friday, Feb. 10: Need a few laughs after a tough week? Bantr in Rothschild has you covered. Come check out headliner Rachel Mac, now based in Milwaukee after years in the LA comedy scene. Mac performs as part of the Koo Coo’s Nest Comedy Club nights, part of a partnership with Bantr. Koo Coo’s Nest once had a physical comedy bar but now runs these events through Bantr. 8 pm. $15. See the event page for more.
Sunday, Feb. 12: No soup for you! Just kidding, all the soup for you! Cruisin 1724 is hosting its 6th annual Soup or Bowl (Play off of the Super Bowl, as you might have guessed). Come enter your best soup for $10 per crockpot, put it up for judging and then everyone can go nuts eating all that soup! Attending is free, entry to the contest is $10 per crockpot, and first place gets all the cash. Think you have a killer soup? Here’s your chance to prove it. 5 pm. See the event page for more info.
Looking for kids/family events? Check out the family-oriented listing from The Wausonian’s partner Wausau Mama, who puts together a weekly listing of children/family activities.
Girls hockey: The CW Storm advanced their win streak to a perfect dozen after a 2-1 win over Fond du Lac Tuesday. The Storm are now 19-3 with three games left in the regular season. They host Bay Area at Marathon Park 7 pm today (Thursday).
Boys hockey: Wausau West finished the conference season strong with a 7-1 win over D.C. Everest Tuesday, but the Warriors still finished in second place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. West finished with an 8-2 record, and first-place SPASH remained unbeaten at 10-0. Playoffs begin Feb. 14. The Warriors will take on Marshfield Columbus 7 pm at Marathon Ice Arena. Everest will head to Eau Claire.
Boys basketball: D.C. Everest pulled out a win against SPASH Friday, giving the Evergreens second place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. Everest hosts fifth-place Wausau West today (Thursday).
Girls basketball: Wausau West doubled up on D.C. Everest Tuesday, taking a 77-39 win over the Evergreens. West remains the best of the Wausau area teams at third place in the Wisconsin Valley Conference. The Warriors will head to first-place Marshfield to close out the conference season.
Thanks for reading The Wausonian! If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up for free to get this roundup sent to you every Thursday. Or, consider a paid subscription to get all The Wausonian’s content.
Feel free to respond directly to this email to offer any tips or corrections. Thank you!