StateoftheCity:CreatingOurResilientFuture RIVER FALLS – ….

Posted 4/12/22

StateoftheCity:CreatingOurResilientFuture RIVER FALLS – “Since arriving in River Falls nearly 13 years ago, the one constant I’ve seen in the people and projects of the city is an eye towards …

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StateoftheCity:CreatingOurResilientFuture RIVER FALLS – ….



RIVER FALLS – “Since arriving in River Falls nearly 13 years ago, the one constant I’ve seen in the people and projects of the city is an eye towards the future,” said City Administrator Scot Simpson at the State of the City address last month.

The event, held at Tattersall Distilling, was a packed house as the first in-person State of the City breakfast in a couple years celebrated the city’s accomplishments and successful navigation of the COVID-19 pandemic.

2021 was spent creating a resilient future using the city’s identified values to guide them, Simpson said of staff’s goals. Those values include putting people first, pursuing excellence, acting with integrity, embracing change, serving the community, and being conscious of future generations.

The future is made stronger by partnerships and collaboration, Simpson noted. Key partners he identified for 2021 were Pierce County Health Officer AZ Snyder and her staff and the St. Croix County Public Health Department in dealing with the pandemic; Freeman Drug, specifically Leah Gavin’s tireless work to provide vaccine clinics and COVID information; the Department of Transportation and its completion of the Highway 29 project between Prescott and River Falls; Chippewa Valley Technical College’s investment in the former Moody’s property on the corner of Highway 65/29 and Cascade Avenue; UW-River Falls planned Sci Tech building; School District of River Falls and Kinnickinnic River Land Trust’s collaboration on school forest acquisition and preservation; health partners such as M Fairview Health and Allina investing in community facilities; and the St. Croix Valley Business Innovation Center, which has seen a 100% increase in business occupation.

Simpson also lauded “exceptional nonprofits” in the community, such as St. Croix Valley Habitat for Humanity, River Falls Housing Authority, River Falls Community Arts Base and RF Creates. He thanked the Ireland family for its generous donation of lighted crosswalks to intersections near schools and the companies who donated to the River Falls Fire safety trailer. Community-focused events such as naming Clifford the Big Red Truck (firetruck), Cookout Conversations and Run with the Cops are easing the community back into a sense of normalcy, he said.


Next Simpson touched on the seven elections held in 14 months. In total, 15,851 votes were cast in 2020, while 2,659 were cast in 2021. The November 2020 election saw an 85.6% voter turnout and more than 18,000 ballots were counted by election officials in 2020 and 2021. Those ballots are handled with accuracy and precision, Simpson said to a round of applause.

“Elections remain the foundation of our democracy and local government is central to the conductive elections,” Simpson said. “Many thanks to Amy White and the poll workers. They continue to demonstrate why they should have our trust.”

Planning “Acting with integrity means doing what we say,” Simpson said. “And being transparent about our work.”

The city recently presented a new five-year fiscal plan and is beginning updates to its Comprehensive Plan, Bike & Pedestrian Plan and Outdoor Recreation Plan. Resident participation is encouraged via the Focus River Falls initiative, found at As of Jan. 1, 2022, the city’s equalized property value was listed at $1.3 billion. The city spends $40 million per year to provide quality services to residents, Simpson said.

“We manage our resources with levy increases tied primarily to new growth, maintaining our excellent bond ratings, holding debt low and we avoid one-time fixes and gimmicks to balance our budget yearover- “Our plans for the Kinni and hydros did not change, but we did have to adapt to natural and regulatory changes impacting our implementation of those plans,” Simpson said.

According to the 2020 Census, River Falls grew faster than many cities in Wisconsin. This resulted in not only residential growth, but spurred upgrades to city amenities and infrastructure. Local businesses also chose to invest or reinvest in the city as well.

_ In 2021, the city built the new Glen Park pavilion, completed pool upgrades and installed a splash pad at Glen Park. The former River Falls Golf Board recently donated $30,000 to go toward new playground equipment.

_ The north interceptor sewer line from McDonald’s to Division Street will have the capacity to accommodate 50% tenants, a new business coming to the former Burger King building and more. Stay tuned.

Housing It’s no understatement that a lot of building is going on in River Falls, Simpson said. The most frequent question asked is “why?” The answer is a 2018 housing study showed that River Falls is severely lacking affordable housing options. And even with all the building that has occurred the past year, the city still is short.

“River Falls has a current vacancy rate of just over 1%, which drives up costs for everyone,” Simpson said. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that we currently face a housing crisis. In order to maintain the current housing conditions, the city needed 1,000 unites of housing to be built since 2018.Even with all the projects St., a senior and memory care facility.

In all, 160 unites of singlefamily housing were built in 2020 and 2021, along with the numerous multi-family dwelling projects. Those developments have paid for improvements to area neighborhoods, such as a new sidewalk from Main Street to Cemetery Road past Wells Park, finishing the Glover Schoolhouse renovation, refreshing DeSanctis Park paths and more improvements.

As the city continues to grow, Simpson encourages resident participation in the Comprehensive Plan process, which will shape the city’s path for the next 20 years. Learn more at “The state of the city is strong, its’ people are vibrant and its future is bright,” Simpson concluded.

Scot Simpson