Construction project causes major controversy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Construction project causes major controversy

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TOMAHAWK (WAOW) -

Look down North 4th Street in Tomahawk and you'd barely know it's one of the city's busiest roads. Instead of traffic and street lights, there are road cones and bulldozers.

"It was the street that we probably received the most complaints on because of the driving conditions," said Mike Tolvstad, Director of Public Works for the City of Tomahawk.

That's why the city started a $1.3 million reconstruction project. City officials say by the end of the summer all the construction will be gone.

"It will be a much, much nicer street," Tolvstad said.

But, paying for the project is causing controversy.

"We have all been socked, very hard," said Julie Nelmark.

Nelmark owns JB's New Design in Tomahawk. She says the construction project is calling her business $11,000.

"People that are not even effected by this see how unfair it is," said Nelmark.

About 30% of the project is funded through city assessments. That means each business on N 4th Street street has to pay a fee depending on the size of the property.

"It's just going to take a terrible bite out of our income," said Nelmark.

Rod Griel owns rental property a block down the road. His assessment fee is $26,000.

"I was upset. How else would you be? 26,000 dollars," explained Griel.

Now, he says he might have to sell, "I don't think it's right because it's a main thorough fare and it's going through town. Everybody uses it. It's not like it's my property that I have to fix."

But city officials say it's a necessary evil.

"This was a last resort. We tried everything else we could think of to try to fund it in other manners," said Tolvstad.

Business leaders say they'll continue to fight this. For now, though, they're trying to be optimistic.

City officials say businesses on N 4th Street have between five to ten years to pay off the assessment fee.

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