By John McLoone
PRESCOTT – Prescott City Administrator Matt Wolf made the rounds in the community Wednesday, updating the community on the many things going on in the city. He started in the morning giving a civics lesson to third graders and then gave a half-hour presentation on everything Prescott to the monthly meeting of the Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce, held at First National Bank.
If the promise of Ptacek’s IGA’s tator tot hot dish wasn’t enough to bring chamber members to the meeting, Wolf’s report was wide-ranging, touching on difficulties in getting the former Steamboat Inn site downtown redeveloped to the community housing boom and many points in between.
Wolf took over the city’s top job in early August, heading across the river from Cottage Grove, Minn., where he served as economic development coordinator and assistant city administrator for five years.
First and foremost, he touched on the situation with the city’s well number three. He said routine testing showed that the well had a higher-than-allowed nitrate level.
“Well number three was actually shut off as part of a standard rotation that we do with our wells,” he said, noting the city had three wells: two, three and four.
“Well number two was turned on,” he said. “Well number three won’t be put back online at all until we get remediation for that well.”
It could be used in an emergency situation.
“If you have a large fire, and we needed water pressure to fight the fire, we would have to turn that back on for the limited amount of time that the fire would be on, and then we’d have to turn it back off,” he said.
Engineering studies are underway to see if the city can dig deeper to get away from nitrates or move a well to a different location. The city could also try a treatment system to remove nitrates.
“Those studies are currently underway,” Wolf said.
He said the council is leaning toward the treatment option, because all the city wells are on the same aquifer.
The drinking water in the city is all within the safe DNR category.
New home construction
Wolf said that as of October there were 40 new home permits issued in Prescott, and there were at least five in November.
“In terms of growth in new development, we’re having one of our highest years since 2007 or 2008,” he said.
The Great Rivers Residential Housing Development at Highway 35 and 570th Avenue, a half-mile south of downtown Prescott, has 49 new homes in its next phase.
“They just got approval to start issuing new home permits. There are a couple of those already under review by our building inspectors,” Wolf said, noting that they aren’t included in official numbers yet because the permits aren’t approved.
“People are already buying those lots. We’re seeing a lot of interest there,” he said.
The city wants to see a park in that development in future phases.
The second phase of the Palmetto development is also underway, with 10 townhome units and 12 single family homes. The development is located south of Joy Lutheran Church.
“There’s a lot of interest in this area, and they’re selling very, very fast,” Wolf said.
The city also completed the purchase of 150 acres of land just east of the current Eagle Ridge Business Park for new industrial expansion.
“In terms of moving forward and looking for expansion and additional tax base off of industrial developments, we went and bought this 150 acres of land for future development to bring in new jobs and new businesses as we move forward with the business park,” Wolf said. “Currently we don’t have anyone interested as of right now as it is relatively new. We are working on marketing material.”
The Riverfront project is in the design phase and has been in planning for several years.
“This has been formally approved int terms of moving forward to that design phase and looking at overall costs,” said Wolf.
Plans are to remove 10 parking spots and adding greenspace in the area of the new courtesy dock. Curb, gutter and sidewalk will be added along the riverfront, and some motorcycle parking will be put in behind Muddy Waters. A scenic overlook deck is planned in the area, as well as adding a new fishing dock and redoing the boat launch.
He said work will start in the area in June and plans call for a trail to run from downtown to Freedom Park.
Kwik Trip is expected to open as of July 2022 in a 11,000square-foot store at Campbell and Henry streets, just south of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church. Wolf said the main entrance and exit to the store will be on Henry Street with an exit also on Campbell. Wolf was questioned whether the new store would be granted a beer and wine sales license, and he said the council has decided against adding any new licenses.
The city has received indication from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation that a roundabout eventually could replace the intersection at highways 29 and 10.
“There has been talking by the state of eventually putting a roundabout potentially there. I don’t know if that for sure is going to happen,” he said.
Coulee River Trails
The city council held a work session Tuesday night to discuss the Coulee River Trails system.
“This was actually brought up and started by the Freedom Park organization,” said Wolf. “The proposal would be to do trails kind of between the two parts of the city that are disconnected. We’re looking at connecting this through trails and creating a trail system both within the city of Prescott and then looking at some possibilities of going outside the city and working with the town of Oak Grove to do a formal connection.”
The Steamboat Inn lot has had numerous development plans in the last decade-and-a-half, but none have come to fruition. Wolf was questioned on why the city doesn’t purchase the parcel and make park space out of it.
“There’s not much to say about this site. It is still currently listed for sale at $3.5 million, which breaks down to $80.35 per square feet, which is really high,” Wolf said. “We have heard speculation that someone is interested but it seems like in talking with people that’s an ongoing thing that has always been brought up. There hasn’t been anything official in terms of development and obviously with the price of sale like that, it’s going to be hard for anybody to take on that development.”
The Prescott Area Chamber of Commerce is planning its annual diner for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Old Ptacek’s Event Center. Tickets can be purchased online at the Prescott chamber website (https://chamberofprescott.com/annual-dinner).