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Common Council Votes to Purchase Park

Lengthy public debate gives council pause on making a decision, but 4-3 vote puts a lake park on the map.

After more than two hours of public input, the board opened its discussion with a motion to table the vote on the lake park resolution and put it to a referendum.

Alderman Noah Fiedler weighed in against doing so, saying that "you elected us, you pay us to make tough decisions, and I see that a referendum in this case is cowardly. It puts the responsibility back on you to do the job you hired me to do," Fiedler said.

Alderman Dan Soltysiak said he agreed that he's not been in favor of referenda in all cases, but hearing such a great response from residents both pro and con, he would support one in this case.

On a 4-3 vote the updated motion was defeated (Aldermen Tracy Snead, Keith Werner and Fiedler opposed), which continued the debate.

Ultimately, Soltysiak said his tendency to support a referendum was based on cost information. "I received an email thanking the council for doing their due diligence on this matter. I don't feel that we have done our due diligence in this matter."

Alderman Neil Borgman agreed, stating, "I don't feel I have the collective wisdom of 400 people, much less the entire community. All I'm asking is that we get a little more information; we pay a great deal of money to have people direct the parks department, if they can't give me an accurate estimate on what it's going to cost, I feel my money is misplaced."

A similar result in a motion to table the vote met a similar fate.

The remaining crowd grew upset with the council, often yelling out despite the calls for quiet.

In addition, the collection of signatures for direct legislation requesting a referendum, estimated at about half the amount needed to force one, would not affect a vote made Tuesday night.

The same 4-3 vote in favor of the original vote (Harenda, Borgman and Soltysiak opposing) puts the offer to purchase of $3.55 million  in the hands of the homeowners.

Marguerite Ingold January 25, 2012 at 09:38 PM
I have never been more proud of my common council than after the due diligence done on research and vote to purchase the land on little Muskego Lake. If all the people there did the research that the people supporting it did we would all be much better informed. I didn't recognize 90 % of the people I saw there last night, strange since I have lived here since 1973. I think the people I know were afraid to show up. Who are all these other people? Where have they been for the last 28 years. I educated myself on this project. I attended all meetings and learned everything I needed to know, every question answered to my satisfaction. I am not among the "no nothings" and that feels good. I don't intend to just drive past this park view, I intend to be in this park. Stop complaining and join with the rest of us and contribute ideas on how to re-use the buildings for our city volunteer groups and how to use the space. That's a much better use of your "intelligence" than "recall, recall". The only thing that can bother me is if our great community is once again held up to be a laughing matter to other communities with a stupid recall bid. It's not easy running our city, it sounds a lot like running our state. Once again Common Council keep up the good work, the "silent" majority is with you.
nora schneider January 25, 2012 at 09:53 PM
Let's get moving. No better time to start looking for a replacement than now.
Suzi Link January 25, 2012 at 10:29 PM
If that is the case, please identify which LEGAL OPEN MEETING involved any discussions regarding re-purposing the mansions in question instead of knocking them down? I have followed the extremely limited amount of data released by the City PRIOR to January 16, 2012, and recall no such discussion. p
Flash January 25, 2012 at 11:29 PM
Ms. Ingold, for your information I have lived in Muskego for 38 years and I too am educated on all the aspects of this subject. I attended the meeting in 2010 when two Plans were proposed for this park. I believe there were over 300 people in attendance at one of the rooms in the high school. The people also spoke overwelmingly against this project. At that time the projected costs was 16 million as I recall. We also heard about Mr. Werner making repeated weekend calls to a certain family attempting to convince them of the need to sell to the city so he could put a feather in his cap for Mayor Johnson or perhaps himself. I think someone, trained in interrogation techniques, repeatedly coming at a family is a strong arm technique. I have been aware Mayor and Werner have told constituents this park deal was dead in the water when asked while they were campaigning. But since our current Ms. Mayor is such a personal friend of ex-Mayor Johnson, it does not surprise me at all this has been brought to life again. Or did they lie? What concerns me is the obvious look of conflict of interest between the attorney for these wealthy landowners and his position on Park and Rec. I have followed along the progress of Bring Back the Lake to Muskego Proud. The naysayers are more educated with how they spend their money than you think.
JC January 26, 2012 at 12:18 AM
Not sure that I called this project a burden-expensive- yes, a poor use of tax payer money- yes, an underhanded deal by some of our elected officials, no doubt . I do enjoy the rural life of Muskego, but I have also lived here long enough (16 yrs) that I find this town to be a hodge podge of areas with no real rhyme or reason to anything. We have businesses on Racine, all along Janesville and Moorland. A Historical "village". A county park to the far west, a beach in the middle of a residential area and a tree farm in the middle of town. Now you want to add one more area! How about a plan? Where exactly is it that you want people to visit? Do you think a 4+ acre plot of land on a busy street is a destination? Sounds like another place for the geese to poop and Milwaukee gangs to spend there summer evenings.
Matt Johnson January 26, 2012 at 12:21 AM
Suzi, Tempers flared last night and I do apologize for that. I know better. Here is my perspective and opinion: You appear to have a complete aversion towards people who not only disagree with you but stand up to you and defeat you in the court of public opinion. From the political candidates you have backed, I see a pattern of lies, personal attacks all followed up by their defeat. Everything you touch turns to black. Why? Do you really think others conspire against you and those you support? Crony-ism? Because others have banded together for a common cause you oppose and fought a good fight and won? Is it like I said last night: egos have gotten in the way of common sense and the ability to work together? That said, I would welcome an opportunity to sit down with you face to face. No more blogs; no more internet. Maybe we can learn to just agree to disagree without all the animosity. Let me know. It's a serious offer. Matt Johnson
Robert M. Lucas January 26, 2012 at 01:07 AM
Suzi, That is exactly the point. At no time has the fate of these homes been decided by anyone involved with the council. The fate of these homes rests in the hands of the community which, will come forward to decide the make up of this park. All the council did last night was provide a 4+ acre canvass for us the citizens of Muskego to paint with whatever brush we choose. Instead of putting forth efforts to defy what this community has come together and asked for on many committees, community surveys and through several studies. Let's put our efforts into coming together and coming up with the picture we wish to paint on this property. I challenge this entire community to lend themselves to a positive impact upon our community. We can least afford to bring more shame upon this city and the citizens of Muskego. Suzi, would that not be the legacy you would want to leave, your permanent positive impact upon the landscape of this community?
Suzi Link January 26, 2012 at 03:08 AM
Rob, you know that I am trying to respect your opinion in this issue, but I absolutely believe that the underhanded way in which the Mayor and her friends have "Picked the Pocket" of the Muskego residents to stick us with this "Canvas" in indefensible. In this case, they are using an old salesman's ploy called "the presumptive close", where the Council ignores any input from the citizens which does not accept the fact that we "Must" have this particular land for a park. Smart consumers do not fall for this ploy. To take it a step further, how on earth can the citizens of Muskego be expected to trust that our opinions will be given any more consideration after the purchase than they have been up till now. Sorry Rob, the only way your analogy works would be if the canvas were truely "a gift", meaning FREE OF STRINGS OR COSTS. Instead, this is just a way for fellow 'club-members" to get out from under property which currently has no market due to the economy. You will never get me to like having to pay for "Welfare for Millionaires".
Suzi Link January 26, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Matt, I have already heard too many of your absurd and baseless accusations and fabrications, both blogging and face-to-face, to see any reason why I would want to be alone with you having a discussion, particularly after last night's verbal and near physical assault. That was not my imagination--I have plenty of witnesses. I harbor no animosity towards you (because that would require strong emotions), but I also hold you in very low esteem. You clearly hold me personally responsible for everything from communisim to the hole in the ozone layer. Until you start to demonstrate that you can deal with issues and reality, instead of personal attacks and lies, I will not be able to take you seriously. Your comments above clearly demonstrate that you have a long way to go. Back to the 'learning to disagree without animosity', that is a lession I learned 4 or 5 decades ago, so it is not an issue on my side. I am sorry if my disinterest in your offer to meet personally sets you off on yet another set of rants. Unfortunately, there is nothing that I can to to improve your conduct. Sincerely Suzi Link
Matt Johnson January 26, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Suzi, I tried. I don't hold you personally responsible for everything but you represent what is wrong with our local politics. I spoke the truth and I am good with it. The apology is real and still stands. One bone of contention though: "near physical assault." Really? You make my case by writing that. As for the Lake Park, it is a good idea. People are drawn to a lake in a community like ours. The developer has a good track record. The lake is a natural center of our new downtown and it is located next to the soon-to-be rebuilt Janesville Road. That part of the lake holds the best water quality and beaches. I did not the support the school referendum (it was too much; contained the wrong list of things in it and would not improve education one bit) but that is separate from this. The city and school system are separate entities. I did not support the last lake proposal (it was too much; contained the wrong the wrong things and was not in the best interest of Muskego). This time, the developer got it right. The city acted responsibly. If it had not, something would have been developed there and it would not have been as good for the city and certainly not for the lake itself. My belief is the opposition to this on the lake is this: "Not on my lake." The financial questions and alike are subterfuge to that sentiment.
Denise Konkol (Editor) January 26, 2012 at 07:59 PM
It still is the place to be....but on a Saturday in summer, I have to park on College Avenue (actually halfway in the ditch) if I wish to use it because the lot is full.
Denise Konkol (Editor) January 26, 2012 at 08:02 PM
Not at all, Suzi. We're still not getting a direct answer on whether it will or not. It sounds like the petitions need to be received before that is determined, which is frustrating. I heard the attorney say Tuesday night that it would depend on what the petition says. If he has that language, why not make that determination now?
Denise Konkol (Editor) January 26, 2012 at 08:04 PM
Interesting note about Geneva Lake: it has a paved public walking path around it's entire shoreline, which means you can walk in front of the Maytag mansion, and every other property. How would that fly here?
obtw January 26, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Matt, I'm directing this to you because you just brought it up. If it's only a park, why do we need a developer ? So far all that's been proposed is buying two properties for a park. So, what's the plan after we buy two properties? What are the future promises and commitments? You also said something would have developed there and it would not have been good for the city. How? What is the current zoning? If the property is zoned residential, how else could something have been developed? What would be developed there? I'm not against a park. But so little has been made public about the "developing the project". I'm afraid the "park" is an end-around to a development that we know nothing about. Is it only a "park"?
Matt Johnson January 26, 2012 at 10:22 PM
In the general area around the park. My opinion is it will be a catalyst for business development in that area. The city is only going to build a park in the land being bought by the city--as far as I know.
Marguerite Ingold January 26, 2012 at 10:49 PM
Flash: I was at the meeting you referred to along with my husband. When we arrived there were no seats close to the front. (stacked?, Hmmm) We were in the back and heard a lot of comments, loud in front, mostly quiet ones in back because most people in favor were afraid to speak up. We are a quiet community after all. Nice quiet sensible people. Idon't picket for what I want, I contact my friends and neighbors and explain my case. When I finish they are still my friends, understand everything and yes I know just how educated the nay-sayers are. They have been around for all of my 38 years of residency. And they haven't added much to the community in that time. For people worrid about developers, the lake will be developed by the city and it's citizens, That land will have no developer once we purchase it. There is a difference in case you missed it. Incidently, my math was wrong and I too, have lived here for 38 years. I came here for the lake but for a very long time have not been able to see much of it. I just can't wait to WALK into our postage stamp park and enjoy the view.
Suzi Link January 26, 2012 at 10:55 PM
MATT I STAND BY MY DESCRIPTION OF THE INCIDENT TUESDAY NIGHT AND SO DO MY WITNESSES, You and whoever it was you were with should both consider yourselves fortunate that I was to tierd by that point to file a police complaint. I strongly suggest that you not push this issue, or it will come back to bite you. Your ongoing pathetic "appoligies" only illustrate why it is pointless to attempt to conduct an ADULT conversation with you. Meanwhile, while you are entitled to your opinions, it is long past time that you stop incorrectly guessing what my opinions and motivationbs are. So far, your batting average is nothing to brag about. It is time that citizens of Muskego WHO ARE NOT RELATED to the former mayor, myself included, have a voice in decisions of this magnitude. WHAT PART OF THAT DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? (Nevermind, that was a foolish question on my part--Sorry.)
obtw January 26, 2012 at 11:05 PM
"For people worrid about developers, the lake will be developed by the city and it's citizens, That land will have no developer once we purchase it. There is a difference in case you missed it." I'll admit, I missed it. When was that discussed or even mentioned? Will the two adjoining homes remain single family residences? Or will they be rezoned multi-family- commercial? Development along Janesville....I'm all for it. Development of the two adjoining properties, I'm not so sure. I need more information.
Matt Johnson January 26, 2012 at 11:24 PM
My apology is real and still stands. Enough said and I have nothing else to say to you.
Marguerite Ingold January 27, 2012 at 06:38 PM
The plans presented include a beach, and a park. Anything commercial after that will have to bargain with the city. The developer is developing something he owns and you know it will be something will enhance the whole area including the park and beach. I trust his judgment to make wise decisions for his developments in our Downtown. obtw: Who did you think was going to do it if the city owns it. We have a fine Park & Rec Dept that is very co-operative with the city and it's citizens and more than capable of doing the plans for the best use of the land.
JC January 27, 2012 at 07:22 PM
This is what I was told. One of the persons selling his house (sorry don't know his name) whom we are giving more $ to for his house than we should, plus moving expenses, which is a crock since I am told his is moving a few houses away. Is also the person that is going to develop a business of sorts in the area that will net him more money! Any body else see anything wrong with this?
The Anti-Alinsky January 27, 2012 at 07:24 PM
Listening to the audio tape, I am wondering how many in attendance also camped out at the Capitol building last spring. OK, that was kind of a cheap shot, but let's compare the two situations: 1) A legally elected body voted (and approved) a controversial measure. 2) During the proceedings, opposition to the measure felt that throwing decorum and established rules out the window would help their cause. 3) An unelected group equaling less than one-tenth of one percent claimed to be speaking for the citizenry. 4) Claims that democratic rules were not followed. Remember, we live in a republic, not a democracy. If we did, we have have to vote on everything and nothing would get accomplished. 5) Mob rule lost. Now to be fair, the city was voting to spend some money while the state was trying to bring it's fiscal house in order. However, we have elected representatives to make these decisions for us. Not all of us have the time or desire to read through all the facts to make a decision. And, unlike the Milwaukee County pension scandal, the city representatives were not lining their pockets. If the city leaders really did not do what the desire of the city was, it will become apparent at the next election.
JC January 27, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Nice try-let's see a good number of our local tea party group "the 83rd Patriots" were in attendance at the meeting. Don't even try to group us in with the union thugs that act like 2nd graders. If our elected officials were truly representatives of the people they would have put it to a referendum and let the people decide, after all we are the ones paying for it we should have our say! 1. Yes they are elected but they are suppose to listen to the majority! 2. Freedom of speech! 3. Sorry, 90% of the people in that room were opposed-unfortunately the meeting was held so quickly that most residents didn't even know about it. 4. It was a railroad job and the vote decided prior to the meeting! All we were asking for was more time and more details-why was that so unreasonable? 5. It's not over yet!!!
The Anti-Alinsky January 28, 2012 at 03:02 AM
Where did you get 90%? Did you do some exit polling? As I said before, It sounded like about 70 people or so. Still, if we use your estimate, 90% of 400 is still only 360 people out of the 23,000 in the city. I don't believe in mob rule. We live in a republic, not a democracy. I don't have time to run to the polls to cast a vote for every thing happening in Muskego. Something like the recent school referendum is different since we were actually asked to add to the tax levy. I also take the time to research issues that affect me. Not every one does, as is evident by the arguments being used by those who want to recall Governor Walker. We have elected officials to handle many of those decisions. Yes, our Aldermen should listen, but disregarding the established rules, the anti-Lake Park crowd actually hurt their cause. Just like the Capitol Campers, they came across (at least on tape) as a loud, petty minority trying to bully the common council. If this is such a bad move it will reflect in the next election.
Marguerite Ingold January 29, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Anti-alinsky makes the most sense. After we are trying to recall a Gvoernor after only one year and we let Obama hang in there for three-plus at this time. A new road is coming and lots of people have their head in the sand over that too. the landscape will dramatically change even after they are done with the first segment. it will join the eastern part of Muskego with the western part and then some. picture sidewalks all the way to Racine Ave. (if you can)that's what it will be. If you don't have ay idea, get it because it's coming and that's something done by much more powerful people than your elected council. (You didn't attend those meetings either either I bet!!!!!!!!) So get used to it, the dusty ol country road of yore is no more, the cornfield, silo decorated landscape is or will be gone...and there's nothing you can do about it. Don't blame your council members, they are thinking forward for those of you who can't
TheRealMuskegoPatch_UnBiased February 24, 2012 at 01:45 PM
What a waste of our hard earned money. Honestly would anyone here pay to go to that park? Probably not
Yada yada yada... March 02, 2012 at 03:40 AM
oh brother...
TheRealMuskegoPatch_UnBiased March 05, 2012 at 02:46 AM
Shouldn't we maintain the other 17 access points that we have before we make another one, oh btw...is Park Arthur open yet?
TheRealMuskegoPatch_UnBiased March 05, 2012 at 02:50 AM
That 360 are only the people that spoke up, talk to basically anyone they don't want this stupid park built.
Yada yada yada... March 12, 2012 at 02:39 AM
how much tax revenue is being lost annually from those two properties?

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