April Eggs & Issues: State of the City – Altoona
April 25, 2023
The April Eggs & Issues on April 21st, was focused on the city of Altoona, and was held at the River Prairie Center. The event highlighted the accomplishments of the city, and their plans to tackle challenges in the coming years. City Administrator Mike Golat and Altoona Mayor Brendan Pratt opened the event.
Chief of Police Kelly Bakken shared information about the Altoona Police Department. One big challenge the department faces is hiring. To help solve this issue, the Altoona Police Department has been working with CVTC and high schools to create a Community Service Officers program. With the program, officers will get a chance to mentor individuals, and possibly hire them. The Altoona Police have also been working on more community involvement, whether that be Big Brothers Big Sisters, or utilizing Doughnut the therapy dog.
Altoona Fire Chief Mark Renderman stated that much like the Police Department, the Fire Department is facing hiring challenges. The hiring challenges are especially important as Fire and EMT calls continue to grow. In 2013, there were 645 calls, and there are currently projected to be 1350 calls by the end of 2023. The Fire Department is looking at creating more intern and mentorship programs for students. Current partnerships with CVTC and UWEC have helped with some of the staffing challenges. Because of space limitations, the Fire Department is also looking at possibly moving to a two-station system, both for more space and to improve response times.
Dave Walter from Public Works talked about the growth Altoona has seen, both residential and commercial. In addition to the larger development projects, such as River Prairie, Public Works also completes ongoing tasks such as utility maintenance, pothole filling, and snow plowing.
Planning and Development
Planning and Development director Taylor Greenwell talked about how the department focuses on climate action, social equality, and economic vitality. This last year, there were 95 new dwelling units permitted, and a 5.75% increase in population. To help meet the needs of Altoona, the city is currently looking into a possible East side neighborhood development.
Library Director Arin Wilken talked about how the role of the library has changed to meet the changing needs of Altoona. While book circulation has recovered from the pandemic, additional services offered have continued to grow. The library offers services such as technology help, laptop rentals, board games, snowshoe rentals, and weekend park passes.
Parks and Recreation
The Assistant City Administrator Richard Downey talked about Parks and Recreation. The city has been investing a lot in parks, recreation and the arts. The city has been working on building several rental properties that can be used for events. Altoona is also excited to celebrate the kickoff to the 2023 season of programming for the River Prairie Park and Art in the Chippewa Valley on Saturday, May 13th.
The event ended by handing out awards. The Chippewa Valley Home Builders Association was given the "Extra Mile Award" for their construction of the Perseverance Park Pavilion. Bob Adrian, the owner of Rump's Butcher Shoppe was also presented the "Chairman of the Board Award."
Space needs for city services discussed in State of Altoona address (Leader-Telegram $)
Altoona OKs spending to change River Prairie back-in parking (Leader-Telegram $)
Parking Changes coming to River Prairie area (WEAU 13 News)
Posted by Emily Johnston Governmental Affairs Intern