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West Bend's Downtown Main Street Reconstruction with Jay Shambeau & Jess Wildes
Episode 6821st February 2023 • Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz • Fuzz Martin
00:00:00 00:15:29

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This week, West Bend's Communications and Economic Development Director Jess Wildes and City Administrator Jay Shambeau join me to talk about the upcoming Downtown Main Street Reconstruction project.

There are a ton of much needed improvements being made to Downtown. Combined with the Riverwalk updates and the new District development, it is going to be a fantastic update to the City.

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Fuzz Martin 0:08

Hey there. How's it going? Thanks for listening to 15 minutes with fuzz. My name is Fuzz Martin. And this is a show about the positive things happening in Washington County, Wisconsin. Why did I start the show? I started it because I was sick of all the negativity on Facebook and Twitter. And I thought I'd take some steps to highlight the positive things that don't often get the coverage that they deserve. So I appreciate you being here with me. We're currently in the middle of the second season of the show. This is episode number 68. Wow. And if you liked the show, you can go listen to all the back episodes in your podcast player or

Fuzz Martin 0:49

Today I am joined by Jessica Wildes, West Bend's Communications and Economic Development Director and Jay Shambeau, West Bend City Administrator. They are here to talk about the downtown West Bend Main Street reconstruction project, which is set to kick off this spring. It's going to be an amazing improvement to downtown when it's done. But as with any road construction project, it's going to be a bit of a hassle while it's underway. However, as they say, the juice will be worth the squeeze. Do they really say that? Who knows? With that here are 15 minutes on the downtown Main Street reconstruction project with Jess Wildes and Jay Shambeau on Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz.

Fuzz Martin 1:42

Jess, Jay, thank you for joining me today, the downtown West Bend, main street improvements and reconstruction project is coming up soon. And I think it would be good to let people know just what to expect from the project. So thank you both for coming in today.

Jay Shambeau 1:57

Thanks for having us.

Fuzz Martin 1:57

Can we start with an overview of the project from a high level? For those who haven't heard yet what is going to be happening in downtown West Bend

Jay Shambeau 2:05

There'll be a full reconstruction of Main Street, including sidewalks, some realignment of the bump out, so fewer bump outs, additional parking will be added all new lighting, we're going to have new streetlights, new smooth sidewalks, the brick pavers are going away for those that are interested in whether or not they're going to remain. Yep, it will be with us no longer will have similar concrete to what the riverwalk has, okay, regular gray, gray concrete that it'll be easier to access and maneuver around town.

Fuzz Martin 2:36

All in all, it's gonna be a really big improvement to downtown. Right? Significant. Yes. But it also comes at the price of the work has to get done in order to get there. Right.

Jay Shambeau 2:46

Yeah, it'll be messy for:

Fuzz Martin 2:54

definitely. So how long ago has this this project kind of start getting put forward.

Jay Shambeau 3:00

But it really started several years ago, there was a proposal by the bid the business improvement district or requested a design from our contracted engineer on what downtown could look like in a full reconstruction. And that was seven, eight years ago is when that first design took place. It wasn't an actual design of the reconstruction. Since the district came on to our new Tax Incremental district in the they call it The District, the new apartment complex that's under construction. That project really was the impetus behind actually being able to perform the reconstruction and afford the reconstruction. We're using the prospective increment from the district property in order to pay for and fund this reconstruction of mainstream. So timing all kind of all worked out with that, right? Yeah, it really did. And the design is significant for a project like this. And I'm just gonna share more of the detail of the many meetings that we've had, as far as it's been, you know, two ish years of that we've been working on the actual design of mainstream,

Fuzz Martin 4:03

I would say, yeah, as a downtown business owner, technically downtown here in West Bend. We've gotten a lot of communication and there have been a lot of meetings and such about this what what has gone into the planning for this reconstruction,

Jessica Wildes 4:16

or a lot has gone to the planning the bid meets every first Tuesday of the month. They've been talking about this project for like Jay said years and also have a bid transportation group that meets pretty much monthly right now to talk about streetscape upgrade. So we've talked about touchscreen kiosks, different lighting options, electric vehicle chargers, just a number of different upgrades that may become part of the project as we move forward. That group also had a large role with the latest downtown parking ordinance change and in advance of this project. So it's been really positive that they've been meeting so often. We also have a downtown bid Marketing Committee He, and this group is charged with really trying to get the word out in promoting what's going on throughout the construction time period. And, you know, letting people know, businesses are open, they're accessible, here's what's going on, and really work to promote the downtown during that time.

Fuzz Martin 5:16

Sure. So businesses will be open and accessible during this time. Yes, they will. Perfect. There are a lot of cool that you talked about the bump out. So that's where the sidewalk comes out into the road. Right. Is that are the bumpout is? And then also you talked about, is this still the case where the road is going to be level with the sidewalk?

Jay Shambeau 5:32

Our engineers are able to raise the road a little bit in order to eliminate some of those steps near the sidewalk? They'll still be a curb and a step, but in a lot of areas, it's going to be way more accessible? Sure, out of the way to the business.

Fuzz Martin 5:47

And did I see there's more parking? There's gonna be more parking now too, right?

Jay Shambeau 5:51

Yes, we're adding up to 40 parking stalls in Main Street area.

Fuzz Martin 5:56

Well, that should be nice for everybody. Right? It will be your like, yes. Fun. That's why we're doing this to make everything nicer for for people. And to bring it up to to really match the Riverwalk and the new development that's going on down with the district and all the businesses. I think the main street improvement are what the facade grants right? I've been seeing people businesses around here that I believe have taken advantage of that where you drive through the buildings been painted or their complete place. So just everything around West Bend's looking good right now

Jessica Wildes 6:27

Actually, the bid facade grant committee recently awarded a couple major projects that are going to take place between 23 right along the Riverwalk, and it really is perfect timing for them to get done in concert with these two major projects. Alright,

Fuzz Martin 6:41

I'm just gonna go on a tangent here quick about the Riverwalk, how's that project coming along?

Jay Shambeau 6:45

Great. It's well along and it's reconstruction. The underpass is starting to take form in shape. So if you walk on the new section, we talked in the past section four of the Riverwalk, which is north of Highway 33 is is basically complete. And taking that new concrete path towards highway 33. Heading south, you can see the underpass forming. I actually did walk it over the weekend, I was able to tell anybody I was able to skip across the rocks. But that is going well we've we've cut down the concrete wall and our contractor has been able to work in part because of a mild winter weather season that we've had but worked out throughout the winter. And they're they're just doing a great job. They're starting on the covered alley as well. walkway is going to be taking shape in the next few weeks months. And that's going to be pretty exciting as well.

Fuzz Martin 7:35

Does that is that the one that goes up to Old Settlers Park? No. Okay. Fix that

Jay Shambeau 7:41

The covered Alley is between the Husar House of Diamonds building and the historic West Bend theater.

Fuzz Martin 7:46

Okay, gotcha. All right. So it's accessible to get back and forth between downtown and the riverwalk side of downtown. Right.

Jessica Wildes 7:53

Yeah, it was the current it was a closed alleyway for many years. And it's recently been reopened and now it's going to be sort of reconstructed, cleaned up and made into a place that's welcoming and kind of inviting to go into to get from the Main Street to the Riverwalk.

Fuzz Martin 8:07

Great. Let's go back to the Main Street reconstruction. Last time I spoke with you guys. This was and I don't know if we spoke on the show or if we just spoke in person, but the project had been under bid it had been out for bid is is that been completed yet?

Jay Shambeau 8:22

It was probably 90% plans when we talked last it is now out for bid. Okay. Those bids will be back on February 24. Okay, and the council City Council will have an opportunity to award that bid on March 6.

Fuzz Martin 8:35

Gotcha. And then how soon after that will construction start?

Jessica Wildes 8:38

Currently it's estimated to start in mid April. Okay. It started a little before a little after, depending on whether you're immediately following the award of contract, we'll be working with the selected contractor to find a time and date for a public meeting where the downtown businesses and residents and anyone who's interested can come and learn more about the project about the timeline phasing and really get their questions answered. We do have a great place on our city website. Actually, if if listeners go to our homepage, there are little buttons for both the Riverwalk and Main Street projects and you can learn more about all the timelines, download the designs and even watch videos of what the completed projects will look like.

Fuzz Martin 9:21

Speaking of the phases are do you know yet if it's going to be done in phases, or if they're going to just because I know there's some things that it's more cost effective if you do it all at once. And there are other other things that you might be able to work from top to bottom or

Jay Shambeau 9:34

left to right parts of the project will be completed in phases. And because the water line needs to be reconstructed throughout the entire project, at some point, it will be closed the Road will be closed. Sure. And the waterline will be handled first they'll reconstruct that and then build back from there.

Fuzz Martin 9:52

The city is also laying out though where people can park to go walk to access businesses and such right?

Jessica Wildes 9:57

Yeah, absolutely. So individuals are able to come down to Main Street in their they can park on the Riverwalk and come across Park on side streets. Sixth Ave, Fifth Ave, Main Street, we also have many public parking lots within, you know, less than a quarter mile. Yeah. So just a few minutes to get really anywhere downtown.

Fuzz Martin:

I'll be speaking with Gi\ena from the Downtown West Bend Association in a couple of weeks. But the farmers market is going to be moving this coming year. Right?

Jessica Wildes:

Yeah, we've been working closely with the downtown West Bend Association on events and making sure that they're still all taking place for I don't want to say all they're taking place and available. So the farmers market is going to be taking place on Fifth Avenue poplar and six. Okay. Right outside.

Fuzz Martin:

Yeah, for sure. On that this hour.

Jessica Wildes:

Okay, it's gonna be really fantastic. And that spot, and then music on Main, which is one of their other larger events that takes place each Thursday in the summer will be taking place in the church parking lot. Along sixth.

Fuzz Martin:

Okay, very good. So right next to the library, right? Yep. expecting that this starts sometime in April, when does the city feel with this project will be completed? All else like weather and all that dependent? Of course. But how do you think this is gonna go?

Jay Shambeau:

The construction project has an October 27 completion date. So the contractor will be held to that date. Our prediction will be that it will be done on October 27. Sure. Just how these construction projects go,

Fuzz Martin:

oh, yeah, yep, exactly. What are you guys most excited about with this reconstruction?

Jay Shambeau:

Well, I'm really excited about the downtown. And it's been intentional on the city's part to really make downtown West Bend thriving. We've done so by assisting businesses come and we have a great restaurant and bar scene. We have service businesses that are down there and are doing a great job with their services and providing and how that how this new Riverwalk and how the new Main Street is going to be able to serve them for the next 40 years in our downtown area. It's just awesome. I'm really excited about the future of that

Jessica Wildes:

same answer, same my dream. And I'm excited about everything with this project. And I mean, I'm really excited that it's going to be made as accessible as possible to businesses during that time. So we're excited to help businesses get the word out that people can come down there and enjoy and still experience downtown West Bend during the construction. And then even more. So when it's all done.

Fuzz Martin:

And again, people can find more information about the project on the City of West Bend's website, if you just googled city of West Bend is probably easier than trying to remember a city URL in today's day and age.

Jessica Wildes:

You can follow our Facebook page too. We provide a lot of updates and pictures and you know, event announcements and things like that on our Facebook page.

Fuzz Martin:

Just click Update how's The District coming along,

Jay Shambeau:

Districts coming along? Great, the the big green building will be green that much longer. They're looking to begin siting that building in the near future. Great. And they are anticipating moving individuals into the first 47 units will be ready for occupancy in April or May of this year.

Fuzz Martin:

Great. How about the brewery? 1840 Brewery because that's really what I was asking you for.

Jay Shambeau:

So the 1840 Tap Room will be located in the first floor of that new building and will come online in July. Right. Okay. Have to wait that long.

Fuzz Martin:

That'll be okay. Anything else worth it? Anything else going on in the city that I that we should know about? Since we have you both in here and you guys know all the things?

Jessica Wildes:

Well, you will be able to see 1840 Before that time because they're planning to come back for their Riverside Park Friday nights throughout the summer. So great.

Fuzz Martin:

Excellent. Oh, and then also what is going on at the top of the hill in Barton? I see that there's a project going on right now. Can you shed some light,

Jay Shambeau:

The Newburg state bank expansion is happening, we're going to have a West Bend office of their facility on that corner. It's really a transformational project that is taking maybe a tired area and turning it into this awesome building. Their plans that they have submitted to the state or to the state and to the city are just phenomenal. They're really impressive looking. And we're really excited to welcome Newburg State Bank.

Fuzz Martin:

that's right at the top of the hill of the stoplight in Barton. And I was forget what the it's Barton Avenue and Main Street. Yep. Okay. Perfect. Someday I will study the map. Drive it every single day. Jess, Jay... Thank you both for coming in. Thanks for all you do to help make the city better.

Jay Shambeau:

Thanks. Thanks.

Fuzz Martin:

Thanks again to Jess Wildes, and Jay Shambeau from the city of West Bend for joining me on today's episode of Fifteen Minutes with Fuzz. If you like the show, please click the Follow button and your favorite podcast player. New episodes come out on Tuesday mornings, I'm always looking for potential guests for the show. So if you have somebody you think I should be interviewing, don't hesitate to reach out with suggestions. And if that person is you, don't be bashful. Reach out, I'm always looking. You can email me that is or If you can go to the contact form on That will do it for today's show. I will join you again next Tuesday. Right here on 15 minutes with fuzz




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