By Adam Hocking
MARSHFIELD — On Tuesday night the Marshfield Common Council continued discussions about contributing $1 million to help construct a new Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) facility and upgrade the existing science building at the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County (UW-M/WC).
During the citizen comment period, Arpin resident David Becker was emphatic that the city should not contribute the proposed money to the project.
“It just floors me. I guess I just don’t understand,” Becker said. “I just can’t see where all the money is going to come from.”
Becker added, “If they need to make changes, they should increase the tuition to pay for it.”
Representatives from UW-M/WC have responded to Becker’s comments by noting that tuition is set by the UW Board of Regents and not at the local level.
Alderman Tom Buttke expressed support for the project, as did Alderman Ed Wagner, who said he would support contributing money under specific conditions.
The conditions Wagner set forth were:
—That UW-M/WC complete its own fundraising goal of $6 million no later than September 30, 2016. The total project cost is estimated at $8 million.
—That committing city dollars be contingent on a commitment of funds from Wood County, which has also been asked to contribute $1 million to the project.
—That the final design of the project should respect the architectural integrity of the existing buildings on campus.
—That the city of Marshfield will not provide additional money or gap funding if there is a shortfall in the fundraising effort by UW-M/WC.
The council will decide whether or not to agree to contribute the $1 million to the project at their next meeting on April 14. The resolution the council will vote on will contain the conditions Wagner outlined in Tuesday’s meeting.
Wagner added that the current facilities at UW-M/WC look similar to facilities he remembers using as chemistry minor in college 45 years ago.
“That is how outdated that facility actually is,” Wagner said.
Alderwoman Char Smith requested that if the project was undertaken that all post high school students in the Marshfield community could make use of the STEM facility.
The city would actually contribute the funds in 2017, but UW-M/WC is looking for the commitment in the near future.