Waupaca’s Main Street reconstruction project underway

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 4:30 PM CDT
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WAUPACA, Wis. (WBAY) - The City of Waupaca’s main street reconstruction project has begun, clearing the way for a new and improved downtown.

“It’s about time. This project’s been planned for a very long time,” said Public Works Director Justin Berrens.

Berrens says they’re digging in on the Main Street Reconstruction project, starting by replacing water mains, sewer mains and storm sewers.

“The utilities underneath are 100 years [old], if not more. So it’s just time,” said Berrens.

But the project will also beautify downtown by adding decorative light poles, colored concrete, bicycle racks and more.

“It’s just really exciting to see this coming together,” said Economic Development Specialist Andrew Dane.

Dane is also excited by the current success of its façade and building repair grants which allow for a complete upgrade of the downtown -- a grant program which Action 2 News reported on earlier this year.

“So as this project comes together, it will not only be the infrastructure of the streets but even more importantly the buildings, the facades,” said Dane. “These buildings will be rejuvenated with several million dollars of investment.”

Community fundraising has also allowed some artistic touches to be added to the Main Street project.

A sound system will be installed for special events and 16 sidewalk poems will be incorporated throughout the area.

“Successful downtowns are finding ways to get people engaged in the community, creating a buzz, offering experiential opportunities for people to go downtown not just to shop but to experience other parts of the communities as well, and the arts are a big part of that,” said Dane.

But as all this work is carried out, the city wants to make sure everyone knows the downtown shops are open for business.

“We’re going to be putting up some additional signage to get people downtown. We already have some signage up,” said Dane.

“We’re keeping the sidewalk open as much as we can. You can see it’s still in concrete. Sometimes a slab or two of concrete has to be removed for the work, and when that’s done they replace it with temporary asphalt,” said Berrens. “Allow that so people are not walking through dirt and gravel but, again, on pavement.”

The city’s efforts have been noticed by area business owners.

“They’ve been great about leaving the sidewalks open,” said Michele Drake, “so we’ve been trying to get the word out that the sidewalks are open and we’d love to see you.”

Drake owns both Northern Home and Lucky Tree on Main Street.

Though inconvenient now, Drake says she and other downtown business owners are excited about the project.

“I actually think the project is wonderful. They’ve been talking about it for years and years and a lot of the infrastructure underlying the street is very, very old and so it had to be done at some point,” said Drake. “And to come through and make it beautiful is what we’re looking forward to.”

In the meantime, Dane says there are plans this summer to place art displays in alleyways, in hopes of inspiring more traffic in the summertime despite the construction.

“We’re really encouraging people to come out and enjoy the city and the Chain O’ Lakes this summer and look forward to welcoming visitors,” said Dane.

Dane has noticed all the current investment into the city is drawing attention.

“We’re seeing a lot of people coming in, bringing businesses in from places like Stevens Point and other communities around the area,” said Dane. “Seeing a huge uptick and surge in interest down here.”

Everyone involved is excited to see the completed project, which is expected to happen sometime around late October.

“I think it truly will become kind of the heart of the community again,” said Dane.

View more details and information about the Main Street project HERE.

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