July 31, 2022
What is the potential of a vacant, contaminated industrial site?
In Wausau, Wisconsin, going from brown to green on a 30-acre waterfront site is paying dividends to the local community.
After $2.5 million in federal and state funding, a $5-plus million investment from the city, and five years of cleanup and revitalization work, residents now have access to a 2,200-foot riverfront public space with recreation opportunities, playgrounds, and natural areas along the Wisconsin River.
Launched in 2014 and completed in 2019, RiverLife Park is the culmination of decades of local land assembly and advocacy. The planning firm Stantec designed the site and helped city officials obtain federal and state funding, including an Environmental Protection Agency area-wide planning grant, two EPA clean-up grants, and public and private grants and contributions.
Daylighting a stream once confined to a storm sewer was crucial, helping to recirculate fresh water from the Wisconsin River and enhance flow during summer low periods. The new RiverLife shoreline offers an accessible pedestrian "wishing bridge" that overlooks the river, boat and kayak access, a picnic plaza, an all-ages and all-abilities playground, and multi-use trail links to downtown.