Eau Claire - Hallie Partnership
When I was growing up in Northern Illinois, I never encountered or heard about the conflict among area communities that I sometimes have witnessed in Western Wisconsin. I am sure there was competition among my home town leaders and area municipalities for economic development opportunities, but I never paid much attention to the issue.
From the time I moved here 20 years ago, I sensed the unspoken competition between local municipalities - whether it was in business, high school or youth sports or just the way local government operated. I think regional competition is healthy, especially when it involves economic development. However, I think there is a misunderstanding how local communities in the Chippewa Valley deal with one another when it comes to commercial progress.
The City of Eau Claire has probably been considered as the "heavy hand" when it comes to negotiating with other communities regarding development, planning issues and/or annexation requests. But, in my opinion, the City of Eau Claire has become a more user-friendly entity when it involves working with adjoining muncipalities to improve infrastructure.
Over the past few years, the City of Eau Claire has partnered with the Town of Washington, the City of Altoona and the Town of Seymour to make the necessary highway improvements to foster growth. Just this month the City of Eau Claire reached an agreement with the Village of Lake Hallie to refurbish Melby Road from the new Highway 53 Freeway to Business 53. Each community will provide about $63,000 towards the short-term fix to enhance the entryway into the northeastern portion of Eau Claire, an important gateway into the Chippewa Valley.
The stretch of Melby Road from the new freeway to Business 53 is slated for major repair in 2010, but the roadway neded to be upgraded now so that the highway has the capability to cater to heavy truck traffic that has resulted from the opening of the freeway. It is to the entire region's benefit that the Village of Lake Hallie and the City of Eau Claire were able to agree on a cost-sharing plan to make the newest entryway into the Chippewa Valley a more appealing highway. Plus, as economic developers continue to promote the expanded airport, it is imperative that visitors fromt the east see the Chippewa Valley as a good place to do business - cooperatively.
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