Uptown pass-through park tossed to another committee

pass-through
Pass-through parks offer an opportunity to do something more with unused small patches of land between urban buildings, as shown n this sample photo provided by the city.

A proposal for a small pass-through park in the Uptown area has been tossed around like a hot potato by the city’s governing bodies. After having been blessed by the Board of Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services on Aug. 8, it arrived on the agenda of the Common Council last week for what should have been a pro forma approval.

Instead, questions arose from Ald. Sandy Weidner about how the park would be financed. City Administrator James Palenick explained that the construction of the park had been accounted for as an item in the 2018 Intergovernmental Shared Revenue Fund budget.

The funds for the park were generated through a tax increment finance district in the Uptown neighborhood.

A TIF district — short for tax incremental finance district — is a development tool municipalities can use to attract business.

The way it works is that a financing district is created and a base value of that district is established by the taxing jurisdictions. The increased value of the property is still charged at the base rate, but the district uses the increased tax revenue to pay for the infrastructure projects.

The discussion, however, triggered another review when the Common Council tossed it, instead, to the Finance and Personnel Committee. That committee will find the subject of the skinny park it on the agenda for its Monday meeting.

According to the agenda for Monday’s Finance and Personnel Committee meeting: “Staff Recommendation to the Finance & Personnel Committee on (Monday) that the City work in concert with the Uptown Business Improvement District in the design of ‘Pass Through Park’ in Uptown Racine.”

Located where a building would stand if there was a building at 1516 Washington Ave., the small plot is a thin slice of uneven, unused land between two multi-story buildings. It opens up on a parking lot in the back.

Although multiple documents refer to the space as a park, it is also called a “Design Pedestrian Passthrough,” which is probably a more apt description.

A sum of $44,500 has been set aside for the project.

If approved by the Finance and Personnel Committee on Monday, the park proposal will again return to the Common Council for final approval.

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Rex Davenport is a reporter, editor and editorial project manager with more than 40 years of experience in newspaper, business magazines and other content channels.