While many people hoped to see some construction on the city’s riverfront in 2019, our top story was related, but opposite – it was the demolition of the century-old blacksmith shop there.
It’s generally been agreed over the past few years the city should revamp the former industrial area across from Mandt Park into a residential district, but disagreements over the historic value of buildings in that area – south of South Street between Fourth and Eighth streets – left the how and when up in the air.
That changed this fall, when the city’s Redevelopment Authority decided it had no choice but to tear down one of the last remaining buildings on the city-owned property, known as the blacksmith shop.
Throughout the debate – including negotiations for what was hoped to be a settlement with the demolition contractor – and after it came down, the RDA worked on getting a master developer for the 10-acre area, a story that finished seventh on our list.
Another demolition, of an abandoned downtown building known as the Kittleson House, finished fifth on the list because of how complicated and controversial it was.
We had a tie for the No. 2 story. One was City Hall moving across the street into a former bank, clearing space for the Stoughton Opera House to expand under the clock tower. The other was the retirements of the fire chief and library director.
Coming in fourth was a second consecutive state title for the Stoughton High School wrestling team after a 30-year drought for the perennial wrestling juggernaut. Two of those wrestlers earned individual titles and five medaled.
At No. 6 was the choice Town of Dunkirk voters made in a referendum to tax themselves to start a rural preservation plan, something Town of Dunn residents will be familiar with.
Three stories tied for seventh. In addition to the riverfront planning, we had the demise of the last locally owned grocery store, the Yahara River Grocery Co-op, after 11 years, and the construction of the Tru by Hilton hotel on the west side of the city, near the Walmart Supercenter.
Rounding out the top 10 was Dane County’s decision to create a task force to deal with flooding problems with Lake Kegonsa after volunteers had to put up sandbags this year.