Stop the Large Townhome Development in Front of Ryan DeSanctis Park!

Stop the Large Townhome Development in Front of Ryan DeSanctis Park!

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Tiffany Bieszki started this petition to Mayor of River Falls, WI Dan Toland and

We, the residents and/or property owners of River Falls, WI, and surrounding areas, respectfully and strongly oppose the city’s decision to move forward with the 84 unit DeSanctis Townhome development in the 7.09 acre, city owned field directly adjacent to the south boundary of the Ryan DeSanctis Park at 1543 Roosevelt Street.

What a beautiful sight it is to see the large, open green space of Ryan DeSanctis Park as you are greeted by a Welcome sign when entering the city of River Falls from West Division Street!

It is no secret the River Falls community has a deep love and appreciation for the environment. As a result, we highly value our green spaces and areas of town where we can enjoy a peaceful, nature experience. While the growth of our community is great to see, we feel the growth needs to happen in an appropriate manner. There already are nearly 20 new buildings going up around the city, providing housing for approximately 1,000 people. Adding an additional 84 townhomes to the west end of town will permanently change the neighborhood and most certainly affect the peaceful experience the community has come to love at Ryan DeSanctis Park.

We ask that Mayor Dan Toland, the Plan Commission and City Council take a moment to ask, “Is a development of this magnitude truly appropriate for this well-established, single family home neighborhood? Are we certain that this is the right type of growth for our community? Are we moving too quickly?”

Many residents believe no, this is not an appropriate development for this neighborhood. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the state of the economy and the future of university attendance is highly uncertain. We believe city focus should now move away from high density housing developments and should redirect to bring new businesses to the community.

We request that the Mayor Dan Toland, the Plan Commission and City Council re-evaluate other lower density options and consider a development plan which is more suitable to the neighborhood and compliments the amenities of Ryan DeSanctis Park. This piece of land would serve the River Falls community well if developed as an extension of the park for public use (i.e. community recreation, gardens, dog park, etc…) or as low-density residential housing as originally intended according to the future land use designation of this site as R-1 single family residential.

Outlined below are more detailed reasons why we feel this project is not an appropriate development for this field adjacent to Ryan DeSanctis Park:

  • We feel the city is building too quickly. What is drawing new residents to the city of River Falls to fill already existing and under-construction housing units?
    • The current new housing developments in River Falls total 19 buildings and nearly 300 units, providing new housing for an estimation of 1000+ residents.
    • According to the recent housing analysis, University students are the largest demographic contributing to River Falls’ housing needs. As a result of COVID-19, the future of physical student attendance to UWRF is in question.
      • Moving forward, many universities will rely on online classes likely causing a drop in physical attendance and significantly reducing River Falls’ housing needs.
    • River Falls has little to offer in the way of desirable retail and dining experiences.
      • We feel the city should focus efforts on drawing new businesses and experiences to River Falls before building more high density housing units.
  • As noted on the 2019 Citizen Survey results, preservation of the natural environment and green space is a top priority and valuable commodity to the community of River Falls. Building high density housing directly in front of the park contradicts the goal of Ryan DeSanctis Park being a place of love, peacefulness and reflection by greatly diminishing the benefits it has to the whole community as green space.
    • According to the EPA, studies show that public green space has many benefits including:
      • Enhancing neighborhood livability and connectivity
      • Increasing community and property values
      • Providing wildlife habitat
    • According to a paper outlining the benefits of public parks and green spaces published by American Planning Association, these spaces have many health benefits to the surrounding communities including:
      • Significant improvement to children with attention disorders and teens with behavioral disorders
      • Enhanced heart attack survival rates
      • Lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and stress levels
  • High density housing was never intended for this part of River Falls as reflected by the R-1 land designation as single family residential.
    • Each acre should have no more than 4 units built on it. The proposed development grossly overpopulates this land with a density of 12 units per acre.
    • No other regional park has high density housing directly adjacent its border.
    • The park will seem as part of the housing development and have less of an appeal to the public as a regional park.
  • The Planned Unit Development of 4 – 3 story, 21 unit modern townhomes does not fit the aesthetics of the west end of River Falls as all surrounding neighborhoods are low-density single family residential.
    • The high concentration of human habitation and vehicle traffic will diminish the appeal of the neighborhood and Ryan DeSanctis Park to many residents of River Falls and visitors to our community.
    • This end of town is desirable to residents of River Falls because it is low density, has highly sought-after green space and a quiet, rural atmosphere.
  • Projected increased traffic of 200 vehicles and 588 trips per day on W. Division negatively impacts:
    • Air pollution levels
    • Noise pollution levels
    • Wildlife habitats
    • Road conditions and traffic levels
    • Quality of life for area residents
    • The safety of families crossing W. Division from Bobwhite Street to use the park
    • Overall pollution and litter to Ryan DeSanctis Park, the pond and surrounding lands and wildlife habitat
0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!