Rock Springs relocates downtown out of flood zone

Published: Mar. 12, 2021 at 6:22 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 12, 2021 at 8:20 PM CST
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ROCK SPRINGS, Wis. (WMTV) - The village of Rock Springs is making big changes to prevent history from repeating itself. Floods in 2008 and 2018 devastated and damaged the town.

The water reached heights near 28 feet on both occasions.

As a response, village officials have decided to relocate the downtown area across the Baraboo River, to higher ground. It’s currently located in a flood zone.

“There’s a lot of tradition down here,” Glenn Buckholt, Rock Springs resident said.

Buckholt has lived in the village of Rock Springs for about 20 years and remembers the historic flooding.

“But we put this town up on the higher plain and we’re not constantly worried about that sort of thing, we don’t have to put ourselves in that situation year after year,” Buckholt added.

Rock Springs Village Board member Jamie Busser and his colleagues came to the same conclusion.

“Seeing how a 100-year flood became a 10-year flood, we had to figure out how we were going to change the norm,” Busser said.

The city center currently stretches about two blocks down West Broadway from River Street to Pine Street. Most of the main downtown buildings are being rebuilt across the Baraboo River to higher ground.

Up on that elevated space, you’ll find the first new building under construction. A new facility for City Hall, the Public Library and Community Center with a price tag just under $2 million.

“The revitalization makes me pretty happy, sad to see some of the historic buildings going down, but there’s not much we can do about that, we have to move on,” Busser said.

“It’s part of living here, you have to accept mother nature and the things that come with, so there isn’t much to think about, you have a flood, you have to change things to deal with it,” Buckholt said.

Rock Springs officials estimate the city hall building will be done in June. The entire downtown remodel is expected to take about five years to complete.

Altogether, the flooding in 2008 and 2018 displaced 92 residents and damaged 29 buildings.

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