New Richmond Fun Fest

New Richmond Chamber of Commerce hopes to offer fun in a new, temporary downtown location in 2021. The City Council agreed on April 12, barring a pandemic surge, so allow use of downtown.

The New Richmond City Council held its monthly work session Monday night, March 28.. 

New Richmond City Council members approved a new downtown location for Fun Fest for a second year in a row. 

Traditionally one of the Chamber’s signature events and major fundraisers, this year’s festivities will take place one block east of Knowles Avenue, between East First Street and East Third Street from July 7-10.

After a two-year absence due to COVID-19, the festival returned to its historic roots downtown in 2021 setting up on the west side of Knowles Avenue on Minnesota Avenue between West 3rd and Fourth streets. 

The downtown location proved to be fortuitous for Fun Fest and in particular the carnival which enjoyed its most successful year in its 65-year history visiting New Richmond.   

Redevelopment of the Beebe Building made a return engagement to that location impossible forcing the Chamber and Director Rob Kreibixh to once again relocate.

According to the approved proposal, bands and the beer tent would again be located in the Mallards/Champs parking lot, with local food vendors located in the public parking lot behind Wild Badger. 

Carnival rides would be located on East Third Street, in a portion of the Civic Center parking lot, and a portion of South Arch Avenue. The entrance and exit to the fire station and First National Community Bank drive-through would remain open. 

Food vendors, carnival games, and picnic tables and the food court would be located on South Arch Avenue between East Second and East Third streets. 

Stanchions and ropes with "no trespassing" signs would be installed in front of private homeowners front lawns. 

The event, which features a carnival, car show, live music, food vendors, beer tent, bean bag tournament and a parade on Sunday, draws thousands of people to the city annually.   

“The bottomline is there is a substantial investment being made by all parties. We want this to work. We want it to be successful. We want to make sure it's a good experience for everybody, the folks who live there, do business there and the people who attend,” Alderman Mike Montello said.  

Affordable housing 

Council members discussed the merits of several resolutions to establish an affordable housing fund that would be funded by employing the Affordable Housing Extension.

The Affordable Housing Extension was added to tax increment financing district law in 2009 to aid communities with affordable and workforce level housing. 

The Extension enables a city with tax increment financing that has retired its debt and paid for all project costs to extend the life of the district for one year. 

Ehlers representative Sean Lentz explained, “Seventy-five percent of the revenues generated under the extension must be used to ‘benefit affordable housing’ anywhere within the city in which the district exists. Affordable housing is defined as housing costing no more than 30% of the household’s gross monthly income. A household consists of an individual and his or her spouse and all minor dependents. Any remaining portion of the increments must be used by the municipality to improve its housing stock.”

The council is looking at four of its seven tax increment districts, numbers 5, 6, 7 and 8 to determine if applying the Extension statute would be appropriate. 

Applying the Extension statute is not subject to approval by the Joint Review Board. 

A resolution must include a plan indicating how the funds will be spent in compliance with statutory requirements, declare the year the final tax increment was or will be received and state the length of the extension not to exceed 12 months. 

The city must adopt a separate termination resolution before the housing extension period expires.

If the council were to approve the three resolutions as currently proposed, the Affordable Housing Fund could receive up to $1.1 million.

Tom Lindfors is a western Wisconsin freelance journalist and former Star-Observer reporter. Contact him at tom@lindforsphoto.com

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