Merrill's revitalization project in question - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Merrill's revitalization project in question

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By Anna Carrera

MERRILL (WAOW) -- Merrill's City Council voted to create a project to revitalize the industrial Waterfront area, but now voter's aren't sure they want it to continue.

The City Council that voted on this project is already gone, but they left the people in Merrill with a long-term project that the mayor says will cost upwards of 20 million dollars.

"There's no jobs around here," said Candice Neumann who lives in Merrill. "None. And we need them now, not 20 years from now."

People in Merrill are hurting for jobs and these plans for a waterfront revitalization would give them some, but not for at least a decade.

"Our economy is hurting up here just like everywhere else," said Merrill Mayor William Bialecki. "And if we're going to stick this kind of money into development, in the short term, I think we should be looking to get jobs into town, good family-supporting jobs."

The City Council approved this project already, but that city council is gone and the legacy of the project stands here today, ready to move forward. Now more than 700 people in Merrill are saying they never wanted it to begin with.

William Bialecki is the new mayor of Merrill and he says even he didn't realize everything that would have to go into this project. There is contaminated soil to clean up and permission from the local Indian tribes to ask for. The mayor says there would be some short term service jobs if the project went into effect and some people in Merrill say they would jump at the chance for employment.

"Yes, definitely," Neumann said. "For being laid off for three years, yeah. I would definitely be interested in anything right now."

But the mayor says his main concern is figuring out what the people really want.

After verifying the signatures on the 56-page-long petition, the mayor says the voters will have the chance to decide what they want during the November elections.

Online Reporter: Anna Carrera

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