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Conversations about Hwy 10/71 junction green space ramping up

A group looking into the future look of Wadena's main entrance found there may be little remaining space for commercial properties following Hwy 10 reconstruction projects in the next two years. With that in mind, the group hopes to keep the entry open and attractive.

Kent Scheer reported to the Wadena City Council Tuesday, Dec. 11, that there is a working group meeting to discuss the corridor's future use called "10/71 Picture Us Beautiful Committee." The group has met three times so far and includes a diverse group of nine people, according to Scheer. The goal of the group remains to make the entryway into Wadena, the Hwy 10/71 junction, an attractive open or "green space, with the addition of appealing amenities." He adds that there's no reason the city has to stop there in an effort to make Wadena a more inviting community to those passing through and those who've put down roots in the city.

"After construction is completed, core plots of land will remain for reuse and that area needs to be carefully thought over to bring from it the best and broadest community benefit," Scheer shared with the Pioneer Journal. "Right now, the initial belief is to retain the current open feel at 10 and 71, but not to stop there."

Scheer noted that Five Wings Arts Council, Sourcewell, Initiative Foundation and Wadena area foundations have been possible sources of funding and assistance for the project.

So far findings include information about the remaining land, which Scheer said could be 60- to 75-foot wide parcels, an amount he said would have little viable reuse for commercial purposes.

The group has also begun conversations about the "construction disruption." It wasn't long ago the city went through the "Big Dig," which replaced Wadena's Hwy 71/Jefferson Street, a project that put a lot of pressure on the downtown retail sector. Planning ahead for detours associated with the Hwy 10 reconstruction was important for residents and commercial property owners, Scheer said.

Scheer noted that the group is welcoming input from anyone in the community to work together to have a plan for these upcoming projects.

"We are just the point of the spear," Scheer said noting that the small group needs input and backing from the community to put together a strong vision for the entry area.

Council member Bruce Uselman also spoke up in regards to planning ahead noting that there are a great deal of decisions to be made during the construction and after to make not only the junction but the entire stretch of Hwy 10 through Wadena more attractive.

Consider emailing Scheer at kentscheer@outlook.com to share your thoughts on the project.