A decision on the location of a new city hall and library could come in early February, and once it does, expect a lot of movement on a lot of Oak Creek issues.
Oak Creek aldermen agreed on the timeline for the decision at a Common Council meeting Tuesday. Aldermen will choose between keeping the library and city offices where they are — at the Civic Center site on the corner of Puetz Road and Howell Avenue — or moving them to the former Delphi property, at the corner of Drexel and Howell Avenues.
This new timeline comes after last year regarding the future of the Civic Center and Delphi properties. A new mixed-use development is planned for the site, but it is not yet known whether the library and City Hall will be part of that.
Right now, the plan for the former Delphi property has one variation in which a city hall and library are included and one in which they are not. City officials have said developers are eager to find out which plan Oak Creek will pick so they can move forward.
But council members were split on the concept of moving quickly vs. taking their time. Some said it was more important to proceed cautiously to make sure they have enough time and information, while others felt enough time has already been spent and other aspects of the Delphi redevelopment project need to proceed.
The timeline they agreed on is something of a hybrid between the two positions.
Nearly every aldermen said it was important to hear the results of the community survey first. The city hired Cobalt Community Research to conduct the survey, in Oak Creek. The results will be presented Jan. 17.
Delphi and the city hall/library accounted for a few of the questions on the comprehensive survey, which covered a wide range of topics regarding municipal services, programs and initiatives. City Administrator Gerald Peterson said the response rate was strong and provides a good indication of where residents stand.
"The survey results came in that the majority of the public felt that a library and a city hall could go forward provided their taxes weren't increased," Peterson said, summing up the sentiments from the survey. "Not a particular surprise."
Next, a joint meeting between school district and city officials, School Board members, aldermen and community organizations impacted by the location decision will be held in late January. but was postponed in the aftermath of Mayor Dick Bolender's sudden passing.
A final decision could come on Feb. 7, another regularly-scheduled Common Council meeting, though aldermen could ask for more time.
The large joint meeting is being held because whatever the council decides on the and has ramifications elsewhere.
For example, if those buildings move to Delphi, the Civic Center property will become vacant. That land could then be used for commercial purposes and get back on the tax rolls, or it may be of use to the school district for a possible expansion of .
And if the school district decides to use that property for the high school, then 50 acres of land the district owns near Howell Avenue and Oakwood Road - originally designated for a second high school - could possibly be used for business development.
There's also the issue of , which is between the city hall and library at 240 E. Puetz Road. At the end of 2010, city officials at 255 E. Centennial Drive (near Howell Avenue across from the post office). Replacing that station has been pushed to the back burner, but a decision may have to be made there, too, depending on the future of the Civic Center.
So there's certainly a lot of moving parts. Or, perhaps more accurately, a lot of parts that are not moving.
And the first domino to fall will be the city hall and library location decision.
** Jan. 17: Aldermen will receive results of a citywide survey —which included questions on this issue — at the regularly-scheduled Common Council meeting.
** Later in January: More discussion, between more people. A meeting is planned to bring together city and school district officials, School Board members, aldermen and members of other community groups impacted by the decision. A date and location for this meeting has not yet been set.
** Feb. 7: The Common Council could pick a location at this regularly-scheduled meeting.