DRI to also provide more than $26,000 in funding
BY KEVIN BONESKE
Rhinelander’s City Council agreed Monday night to support a request from Downtown Rhinelander Inc. to use some funds designated for related amenities with the Streetscape project to purchase Christmas lights for the downtown area.
The motion unanimously backed by council members would provide half the funding for $52,248 worth of lights designed as snowflakes with DRI agreeing to provide the other half.
City public works director Tim Kingman informed the council members that an estimated $27,790 budgeted for Streetscape improvements could be redirected for Christmas lights by eliminating four benches along with six recycling and nine trash receptacles, leaving the downtown project with 10 benches and nine recycling and nine trash receptacles.
“This item here is really about substituting Christmas lights for benches or other amenities,” Kingman said. “When we looked at this budget in the count of things, we didn’t see that we needed the recycling receptacles, to duplicate them.”
Kingman said benches could possibly be added later on in the event the city has funds left over from the Streetscape budget.
Mayor Dick Johns said the city’s Christmas decorations have deteriorated over the years. He favored the purchase of the lights as “an opportunity for us to put Christmas back in the downtown in the city of Rhinelander.”
“I think it’s one of the nicest things that could happen,” Johns said.
Pat LaPorte of DRI spoke in favor of the snowflake Christmas lights, of which two samples were on display in the City Council chambers.
“The reason we went with the snowflakes is because we thought that it could be a more seasonal thing, rather than Santa Claus or something,” LaPorte said. “So that, maybe if the weather was really bad, those lights would not have to come down immediately after Christmas. They could stay up a little longer, so you have a little more play in taking down the lights.”
LaPorte said the snowflake lights are a portion of the Christmas lighting project DRI has planned for the downtown area.
“To me, it’s showing the community that the city has a hand in this and that they’re committed to helping bring the Christmas lights back to Rhinelander, because what’s left from 50 years ago is pretty much down to nothing,” she said.