Wisconsin Dells’ newly improved downtown public areas — the Duchess Plaza and the Dells Scenic River Walk — have attracted a stream of visitors during their first full summer season. But with those expected and obviously welcome visitors apparently has come a challenge.
That challenge: How best to clean, maintain and — in the case of the River Walk — protect from graffiti these newly popular and tourist-populated areas.
Members of the Dells Business Improvement District dealt with these issues during a Sept. 6 meeting.
An hour-long discussion during the BID committee’s twice-monthly meeting at the Dells Municipal Building yielded possible solutions for both of the aforementioned public spaces, with BID members and public officials alike offering to collaborate, in hopes of maintaining and preserving the beauty of the downtown gathering sites.
In the case of the Duchess Plaza, a new, ongoing cleanup proposal utilizing potential manpower from at least one adjacent business (Cheesecake Heaven), as well as an occasional assist from the Dells-Delton Parks and Recreation Department, was agreed upon by everyone in attendance, with the Cheesecake Heaven proprietors not in attendance.
Cheesecake Heaven has already pitched in this summer to help remove accumulated trash from the Duchess Plaza area, according to several BID members. The committee will propose they continue that effort with a financial enticement of $3,000 per year — and increase from the $2,575 charged by the High Rock Café for its employee’s efforts since the plaza opened.
As for the River Walk and its graffiti issue — which apparently has plagued a section of the protective railing around the walk’s primary River Road overlook — the proposed solution came from Parks and Rec Director Thad Meister.
Meister suggested the installation of closed-circuit security cameras and accompanying signage to thwart future would-be graffiti perpetrators.
Apparently visitors have been unable to resist carving their initials into “a specific space” in the top rung of the overlook railing, since the overlook was re-opened almost a year ago as part of the River Walk’s extension and upgrade.
“That’s what has happened in a lot of cities,” Meister told the committee. “They’ve taken a specific space — and they don’t do it in any other place (along the railing).”
The funding for the cameras will come from “funds allocated (to Parks and Rec) for River Walk maintenance,” Meister said.
In the meantime, Parks and Rec maintenance employees will “get some touchup painting done this fall” at the railing’s affected areas, he said.
“We’ve obviously taken a little bit more of the oversight of the River Walk,” he said. “I’ve inquired with security companies (about) installing cameras.”
In other business, the committee agreed via consensus to employ Wisconsin Dells Festival in booking entertainment for the Duchess Plaza during at least part of the upcoming Wo-Zha-Wa Days Festival, scheduled for the downtown area Sept. 15-17.
Jenifer Dobbs of Wisconsin Dells Festivals and the Dells Convention and Visitors Bureau agreed to pursue various acts she indicated are available and affordable that weekend.