On to University Avenue

Eds Note: I am very pleased to welcome Dr. Rent to the pages of the Wausaublog, even if I have to apologize to him on his very first post. John sent this post while I was working on the piece on Stewart Avenue, and while I worked on it, I did not have a chance to look at what John sent. It was only afterwards that I realized we had written on the same thing, but come to different conclusions. This is the way of things in a multi-author blog in a small city, I suppose. But I was left with the quandary of when to post which piece. I decided that last ups, like in baseball, would be the preferred position and left that to Dr. Rent. So, here in the bottom of the ninth, with two on and two out, please welcome Dr. Rent to the plate.

John H. Fischer By Dr. Rent: When Bill first asked me to add the insights of Dr. Rent, it was some time ago. I had hoped to follow up, but things get busy and, well.. we all know how it is. Bill asked again recently, and this time I did make a firm commitment. I took a look at the list of new contributors for 2007 and I am quite honored to be in their company, I hope that my posts and insights will prove me worthy.In the Dr. Rent radio show, I had an hour to go on about a topic, one hour’s worth of reading here is what no one wants, so I will try to keep the posts short enough to not put you to sleep, but long enough to be complete. I had mentioned that rent certificates would be a timely first topic, but with some recent events, I think I need to discuss a different topic for my first post.


This is coming before the Wausau Council on Tuesday. I was present at the CISM hearing and did testify in favor. Unfortunately, I will not be able to be at Tuesday’s meeting. Therefore, time to give you the view of this issue from a real estate investor’s standpoint.

During the hearing, there were equal numbers testifying for and against. Based on petitions and other letters received, those in favor far outnumbered those against. Something I find interesting is who was in favor, and who was against. The biggest against was Trinity Church, this change would cost them approximately $10,000. Most (dare I say all) of those against were in some way associated with the church. Now, those for. Of course various employees of the UW were in favor, but many large real estate developers (myself included) where in favor. The Chamber was in favor. Even John Muir Middle School did not object if the timing was when school was not in session.

Let’s look at reality. With all of the new construction, there are two main east-west streets west of the river. One is the massive 4-lane that starts at the river coming off the Scott St Bridge and continues past the new Menards until it merges onto Highway 29. The other is a mix of 2-lane, 3-lane and 4-lane that starts at 18th Avenue and continues west into the business park. It would make sense if these two streets have two different names. Right now, starting at the river, you are on Stewart until 18th, then you have to get off of Stewart, go a block south on 18th, and then you have to turn to be back on Stewart again. Wausau is a confusing enough place for rookies trying to navigate our streets, if we have the chance to simplify, we should.

So, which of the two streets should get the name change. Well, the part that starts at 18th and goes west has hundreds of properties along it that all have Stewart Avenue addresses. The new road only has a handful. I own or manage three properties on this stretch of the street, 2 have Clark Street addresses and one has a 2nd Avenue address. So, the number of people impacted with an address change is minimal. I also understand the historical significance of the Stewart name. But Stewart was a business man, shouldn’t the street that bears his name take you to our business park, where Wausau’s manufacturing center lives and thrives? The other branch goes past the university, what a fitting name, University Avenue. What a name to indicate what a forward thinking city Wausau is. Yes, we have street names for our founding fathers, but we also respect the future. The UW is a big part of Wausau’s future. I am not from Wausau, I moved to Wausau in 1993 after leaving the military to start school at UWMC. After two years I left and finished my degree in Madison. Then guess what I did… I came back! The impression that Wausau left on me my two years as a student! I had a degree in international business with job offers all over the globe, but thanks to my exposure to Wausau while at UWMC, the Wausau area is where I decided to call home.

City leaders and alderpersons have said they will vote the way their constituents tell them. That is a noble theory, but flawed. I deeply respect Ed Gale and I agree with him a lot more than I don’t. But I am sure he has more than 90 constituents. His vote against at the CISM was based on calls he got.. both for and against were in the 40’s. And, am I a constituent? Although I live in the town of Wausau, the real estate holdings I either manage or own total millions… my tax bill to the city will easily exceed $50,000. Many other people in favor pay a lot more in taxes than I do. Does their voice also count? The biggest objectors, those associated with Trinity, I believe that they should have an equal voice as me, not more or not less. Should the concerns of an entity that is tax exempt and probably does not pay property taxes have equal say in Wausau’s future than those of us who do?

Please, if you are FOR University Avenue, contact the mayor and your alderperson, let them know. Also, if you are AGAINST, tell them that. They need to know what all of us think.

I am sorry I cannot attend the meeting on Tuesday, but I hope the city and the alderpersons make a decision that is in the best long term interest of Wausau. They were voted in by their constituents, however the job they were voted in for was to make decisions that were good for the city, even if a particular decision may not be the best for 1 of their constituents. Being an elected official is hard — I know –there are hard decisions but Wausau has a good group of people I am sure can make the right decision.

Dr. Rent


2 responses to “On to University Avenue

  1. So I shall ask the question…what is the ulitmate cost to changing a name? what is the benefit?

    Is this a discussion based more about how our City Council responds to its voters…or is this about a name of a street.

    I live on Ross…you can change that one if you like.

    Wont people just call it what they think it is anyway. “Stewart Ave, or University, whatever you know what I am talking about”

    Does it ulitmately matter in ten years?

  2. I think there is a slight effect of street names and it might matter down the road, as it were. In this case, because it is a major street and also a freeway exit that there is some implications to the name. Big green sign with “University Avenue” or “Stewart Avenue” or “Bull Falls Boulevard” could make a slight difference to those driving by who don’t live here.

    But ultimately, I am going to agree with Jim that as a pressing issue it doesn’t register very strongly and since no action is probably less politically damaging than some action, that inertia will take hold.

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