Readers Write: MHS Senior Calls Lake Park Failure a Sad Day For City

Bryan Kubel gives the perspective of a graduating senior who has grown up in Muskego, and says the loss of a park on the lake downtown is a lost opportunity.

Dear citizens of Muskego,

You may not know me because I am new to the politics scene, having just turned 18 last December. However, I have been a resident of Muskego since I was two years old and have kept on top of all of the city’s events and news since I was a young child.

I believe that today is a sad day in our city. Mr. Dilworth and the Gardettos officially pulled the plug for the city to purchase their properties and turn it into a lake park in the new downtown district. This ultimately ends the vision of creating a lake park that would have put Muskego “one wave above” our surrounding communities.

I, along with many other citizens with this vision, believed that a park would have had so many potential benefits that would have moved our city forward in terms of progress and an increase in quality of life. With this park, and the reconstructed Janesville Road, citizens from all over Muskego could have rode their bikes in the summer on the city’s ever-expanding trail system to the park to have a fun afternoon in the sun. The community could have had local music acts perform along the beach at sunset, creating an interesting and fun evening in an otherwise uneventful city. This park would have brought many other positive changes to the area. According to the city’s latest business study conducted by an outside firm, they ranked the lake park development a “high priority” to increase business in the city. The mayor also pointed out that a few businesses were looking at that area if the park were to be built. Looks like Muskego lost out on yet another business; we will never know what potential business that was.

The idea of a park would have had so many potential benefits that were unfortunately overshadowed by “the other side’s” calls to the media highlighting the false fact that “no one in Muskego wants a park.” Also, those that were opposed to the park claimed that there was a conflict of interest of the owner of one of the houses. But, wasn’t the fact that the group that started the petition/recall/calling to the media lived in the Bay Breeze condominium complex and in other lake houses also a conflict of interest? Would citizens of Bay Breeze not want a park because it would cause “too much ruckus” and that it was on “their lake?” Our lake, Little Muskego Lake, is a valuable asset that should have been exposed to the new downtown area, but will continue to be blocked by residences.

Congratulations, naysayers, you won. You didn’t get the “horrible” lake park in the community that is composed of lakes. Unfortunately, your winning prize is being shared with 24,135 other people. What is it? The prize is nothing, meaning that we will continue to not make progress in our city. Muskego will continue to be “just another average suburb” of Milwaukee. No wait, in terms of business, we are below average. This park would have put us on the map for something good for the region, and would have been great for every citizen of the city in some way or the other. Now, we will just be talked about by neighboring communities for more negative things: about for a recall that is now insignificant (their main point was about the park…what will their basis of recall now?).

It’s a total shame that the vocal minority got so loud that we lost something that could have been a catalyst for our city. Instead, we are stuck with the status quo: no main lake park in a city with three lakes, a downtown that continues to feature more dead trees than businesses and things to do, and continuing to have to leave the city to dine out. Something that was supposed to bring community spirit and bring Muskego together instead brought out bitterness and anger from citizens, and our city is now divided. Muskegoans with a sense of pride and vision, you have every right to be sad today, because it truly is a sad day.

Bryan Kubel

Sheepshead April 04, 2012 at 02:41 PM
Well Said, young man.
Muskego Politics Make Me Bitter April 04, 2012 at 03:01 PM
Agreed with Sheepshead, very well said. And down with Bay Breeze, the source of all of Muskego's blight!
JC April 04, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Its not the concept of a park that was an issue for me it was the cost. I am all for beautifying the community, but paying someone market value for there property in today's economy is just ridiculous, combine that with tearing down beautiful homes-sorry does not make good sense all around. We could certainly use a bit of TLC in our already established parks, that too is an asset to the community. The financial road ahead is rocky at best, Muskego currently is not in too bad of financial shape. Saving as much $ now will only strengthen the city and perhaps when things turn around we will not have to tax the people to death and still get a park on the lake. A well thought out plan would benefit everyone.
Matt Johnson April 04, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Kudos Bryan! True vision is for those who are unafraid of looking into the future and seeing a better way.
The Anti-Alinsky April 04, 2012 at 10:13 PM
Wow. Bryan Kubel writes much better than many of the bloggers on this site. JC, when you compare the cost per acre compared to purchasing the Parkland site (which many opponents to the lake park supported), it was a great deal. Most governments pay fair market value or above when purchasing property. The reason is they don't want the sellers to get buyer to c aim some sort of coercion and tie the acquisition up in court for years. And don't kid yourself. When and where will another opportunity come along? This was a perfect location, right along the main road, close to many existing businesses and within walking distance for many of the residence of Muskego. And let's not forget, there was some support for a senior center at one of the existing houses. That's now gone.
Robert M. Lucas April 05, 2012 at 02:37 AM
Bryan you are a very insightful young man. You have vision, something that is clearly lacking in this city. While many still want to argue the issue of cost you saw the long term value of why the park was important, which mitigates any cost. By the way the cost to tax payers was minimal taking into account land fill designated funds and DNR grants that we will now never see. The commercial development would more then offset any tax loss and as for the mansions, some of them are gone regardless. Just wait. Hats off to you Bryan, your parents should be proud and as of now this city will be expecting big things out of you in the future. Continue to make us proud and stand up for that which you know is true. All the best.
Logic of Muskego April 05, 2012 at 05:11 AM
How do you know that the people opposed to the park were in a minority? Unless you have conducted a scientific poll to tell who supports this project and who doesn't, you have no right to claim those opposed are in the minority. If you wanted the park so bad, how come you didn't speak up louder before? You can make just as much noise as anyone else. That goes for all those who are whining about not having one more project to waste money on, not just Bryan, who probably was vocal before. Muskego has many other parks, most of which are falling apart. One of these parks falling apart is already on Little Muskego. Or has no one remembered Idle Isle? The millions of dollars would be much better spent on existing parks, saving us, the tax payers money. Especially because the new park will probably end up being unfinished, abandoned halfway through, and looking like the tree farm on Janesville. And the residents of Bay Breeze have every right to not want a noisy park right next to their homes. It would greatly devalue the property, and how would you feel if people were out until all hours of the night in your backyard? Same difference. People actually live there year round, it isn't just a vacation spot. Just because you can't have a brand new park doesn't mean you should whine and complain about it. Use all those creative talents to think of ways to improve areas like the "tree farm."
james b leonard III April 05, 2012 at 12:01 PM
Ah words of wisdom from the mouths of babes,you can truly look at the world thru rose colored glasses when you've never been in the position to have to pay for it at the expense of more neglected and worthy needs of the city
Dr. Jodie April 05, 2012 at 12:17 PM
Well written, nicely expressed, mature, insightful 18 year old who cares deeply about his city's future. Don't give up hope! Everything happens for a reason. The "right" thing will eventually prevail.
Amy Oechsner April 05, 2012 at 01:14 PM
Thank you Bryan. That was very well said and I commend you. Dr. Jodie is right, we still have hope! I hope you won't give up on Muskego, there are many of us who want that beautiful city with a beautiful lake park, with a beautiful downtown, and lots of nice places to shop and eat. We can't give up hope!
The Anti-Alinsky April 05, 2012 at 07:34 PM
Logic, there were many people that spoke out in favor of the lake park purchase. They were not the ones that circulated petitions on false premises or start recalls. I have asked this many times before and have yet to get an answer. What exactly is falling apart in the parks, specifically at Idle Isle? And do you have some evidence that a park would devalue the Bay Breeze properties? Typically the closer the proximity to parks, the higher the property value. And stay off the tree farm issue. NOTHING can happen until this lawsuit is resolved. That doesn't mean the city can't keep moving forward on other projects that will improve the quality of life in the city.
The Anti-Alinsky April 05, 2012 at 07:38 PM
jbl III, why did you label Bryan Kubel as a "babe"? His parents have been paying Muskego property taxes for 16 years. Since what they pay affects him, he has every right to express his opinion on the lake park.
The Anti-Alinsky April 05, 2012 at 07:44 PM
The truly sad part is seeing where Muskego has gone in 25 years. Back in the mid 80's when Dandelion Park was offered to the city, the community overwhelmingly voted it's approval. The citizen's back then were more forward looking, seeing the possibilities for the future. Now, the mentality has shifted to look backwards to the 80's, when the city was isolated, limited businesses and no thing that would jump up and shout "THIS IS MUSKEGO".(Other than an angry group of re-callers that apparently love to embarrass the city.) And now we have lost many of those businesses. Tell me MEGNOG, why would I want to move my family or my business here?
Mark Seghers April 05, 2012 at 09:22 PM
Awesome, Bryan. I agree 100% with your very well written article here. Our lakes are house-locked and unless you live on them, are not a part of the city's identity. Driving down Janesville, is there a lake somewhere over there? Look quick! A centralized park would redefine our community in ways people just don't seem to understand. I also agree with the general need to improve the character and identity of Muskego. Too many of our commerce dollars leave the city- there is comparatively very little to do here. I don't consider the super Walmart to be a step in the right direction, necessarily. Why does commerce either seem to stay away from Muskego, or come here to die? I would like to know, if someone can help me understand. Thank you.
Mark Seghers April 05, 2012 at 09:25 PM
P.s. I don't think anybody is forgetting Idle Isle, I just see a vast difference between a centralized park tied to commerce and community identity, and a tucked away residential community secret.
Mark Seghers April 05, 2012 at 09:32 PM
I don't see Bryan's comments as whining at all. This young man should be proud of himself for stating his case so clearly, and for not being afraid to put his name on it... Which is something i think more people should do.
Nate D. April 07, 2012 at 12:25 PM
Bryan - how about you give me a non-refundable $3000 down payment for a car without knowing which car I am going to provide you with. And, keep in mind, you have to buy whatever car I end up giving you. Wouldn't you like to know if the car was going to be something you could afford BEFORE you hand over the $3000? Don't you think it would be proper to know if you are going to be on the hook for $10,000 Kia or a $300,000 Maybach? Wouldn't that make a difference to you? You don't just buy the properties and BOOM you have a park. The world doesn't work that way. How much is it going to cost AFTER the properties are bought and bulldozed? $5 Million? $10 million? $20 million? How much will it cost to maintain this park on an annual basis? These are questions that should be answered BEFORE you make a significant investment. Where was the plan beyond..'buy the properties'? There wasn't one and people were well within their rights to object to such shortsightedness, arrogance and lack of professionalism of this "project". Come with a plan...tell the people how much everything is going to cost, not just the first step. Throughout your entire letter you never once mentioned cost. You may not care about the cost since you would be a free rider...but, believe it or not..the rest of us that would have to pay for your 'park' would like to know the bill before we lay out the cash. And, be honest....so would you.
Robert M. Lucas April 07, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Were was your objection and this analogy on the Borst property purchase of $1.24 million. A price agreed upon by the council that is above assessed value by the way, unlike the lake park land which was below assessed and appraised value. No plan. The last time the city brought forth just an idea of a plan (the infamous "Bring Back the Lake" project), it was shot down and people were overwhelmingly opposed because they were not part of the planning process. The car the city would receive in your analogy would be decided by those that would be driving it and how much they were willing to spend. Same with the park. By the way is the car going to depreciate or appreciate in value over the years. Is it an investment that would make your portfolio or holdings more valuable or less over time. Will it be worth more or less 5, 10, 20 years from now. I think I will take the lake property over what ever car you buy. Time to stop drinking the sand thinking it is water and realize that people with vision were elected to lead this city. Your lack of vision, information and just ignorance is readily apparent. Gold plated toilets would need to be part of the plan just to come close to spending your $10 to $20 million. You believe what you have been fed. You are not alone but if you choose to remain ignorant of the facts and remain small minded then that is a choice you will have to live with. Just do not try to make yourself sound smarter then a 12th grader.
Nate D. April 08, 2012 at 04:32 AM
Wow...where to start. The Borst property...there is no plan because there is nothing to do beyond purchase the property. That was done to preserve it and I believe help control what flows into Little Muskego. I don't get your point...or perhaps you missed mine. The analogy...again you miss the point and throw out red herrings. I never said the park would cost $10 or $20 million. That is what the '?' after the numbers means. The question was a rhetorical one....and the point, which again you seemed to have missed...is that nobody knows what it will cost and what it will cost should be known before we decide to move forward on it. I am also wondering....I said "$5 million? $10 million? $20 million?" and yet you only attribute the high end numbers to me in your argument...classic move when you can't answer the main objection...distract and talk about something nobody has even mentioned. Finally...(broken record, you missed the point yet again) the point of the analogy was to show how insane it is to put money down on something you don't even know that you want or can afford. That is why the input should happen before you commit the money. Saying people will have input after they have been forced into the position is fairly lame. One final clarification...I wasn't literally comparing cars to parks as you seem to indicate with your depreciation rambling. At least that much didn't go over your head, right?
The Anti-Alinsky April 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Wow Nate. That’s the worst analogy ever. But I think I can take it and clean it up. First of all, it’s not a down payment. It’s a purchase. And the type is not unknown. It’s not like we would have buying a 1985 Chevette here. More like a 1967 GTO. And we had options with that ’67 GTO. We can simply drive it as is, restore it to original condition, customize or trick it out. With the last lake park proposal, we could have converted one of those homes into a senior center, taken everything down to the ground, or used the area as is. The real world doesn’t work the way you describe it either. There are very few people or companies that will design a building/site prior to buying a property. The builder/architect has a vision, but details usually don’t get down on paper until after the location is secured. By the way, your silly speculations on the cost of development are unrealistic. Yes, the majority of common council voted for a lake park, but all of them were savvy enough to know spending $5 to 20 million to develop it would be political suicide. And don’t forget when Mayor Johnson brought forward a CONCEPTUAL plan for Bring Back the lake, the pre-MEGNOG group erroneously pointed to that as a done deal.
The Anti-Alinsky April 08, 2012 at 07:03 PM
It’s politics like this that scare me in this city. We have groups that go out of their way to spread falsehood like yours just to get their way. In the mean time, Muskego will not be know as having a beautiful downtown lake park. Instead it will be known as the city that airs its dirty laundry every time the city leaders try to move this city forward.
Suzi Link April 19, 2012 at 05:54 PM
The Borst property is a wonderful comparison. As a "conservancy" park, the natural features will be protected forever with minimal maintenance costs. According to the parks director, this park will have pedestrian/nature trails and (possibly) a horseback riding trail. Instead of the roughly $1,000,000 .00 per acre cost of the proposed Lake Park, the Borst property cost the City $11,923.08 per acre BEFORE the City is given donations from the DNR, the Muskego Lakes Land Conservancy, the Little Muskego Lake. That means that per acre, the Borst property costs LESS THAN 2% of the proposed lake park for 26 TIMES THE PARK SPACE. HMMMMMM!!!! Which park makes more sense for Muskego taxpayers and residents?


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