Editor's note: The parade has been approved to take place on Ohio Street. The official route will be determined closer to Canoe Fest.
DARLINGTON – Unaware of conversations happening between the Canoe Fest Committee and those working on the road construction project, the Darlington City Council stated at their meeting on Tuesday that there will be no parade this year.
Director of Public Works Jeremy Williams stated that the schedule created by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has been set with a tentative start of March 29.
“They got the go ahead from the state to set up traffic control. There are going to be hundreds of signs around the area,” Williams said.
They will begin on E. River Street and W. River Street intersections. Temporary lanes will be set up and after that then begin shifting traffic and start detouring mid-April.
The city needs to have a water main drilled under the river close to the bridge. They can’t disturb within 75 feet of the riverbed until the cricket frog is out of hibernation.
“It all depends on the cricket frog,” Williams added. The northern cricket frog is native to the United States and parts of Mexico. It is one of the smallest vertebrates in North America. They are generally active during the year except in winter when the water is frozen.
Williams is hoping to have that main done by mid-April and start work on storm, water, and sewer connections at intersections. The project will begin working on northbound lanes first then switch to southbound and have it done by end of June.
Mayor Mike McDermott added that himself and Jeremy spoke with project managers about having the parade down Main Street.
“For safety purposes they are not going to allow the parade on Main Street,” McDermott said.
Williams stated that there were some discussions back and forth between the Canoe Fest Committee members and the DOT that of which the city council was not aware.
“They brought up that it is too big of a safety factor to allow a parade on Main Street for Canoe Fest. There will be barges in the river to catch debris from the bridge so no canoes can go through.”
The DOT asked the council to have people start sending emails to Williams or McDermott instead of calling them about the project. Williams is the head of the project for the city work.
Alderman Steve Picket stated that Gregory Payne told Jason Funkhouser that the Main Street would be completely closed and they wouldn’t be allowed across the bridge.
“If they are going to have someone that is their person to contact, they should at least know the right story. We need to make sure we all have one story,” Pickett said.
Williams reminded everyone that this project is a DOT project and not a city project.
“We are just replacing water and sewer mains, sidewalks and some street lights. This is a state highway, that is why we have them,” Williams said.
He wanted to remind people that if they wanted to have events downtown, it would still need to be approved by the city council and wouldn’t need to be discussed with the DOT until it is approved.
The DOT will do a progress report every couple of weeks with Williams so he will have the correct information about the project as it developments.
Reopening municipal building
Park and Recreation Director Wade Berget stated this month they would begin notifying members that their membership fee will go back to full price in April. They plan on opening up additional time slots and had more space in the gymnasium and upper weight rooms. Hours will gradually be increased to stay open to 8 p.m. as well. The plan is to be fully opened by May 1.