By creating a town center at the Delphi site in Oak Creek, city planners and consultants would basically be building a downtown from scratch.
That’s how Mayor Dick Bolender and others described it at a public meeting Monday on the project, attended by more than 100 people at the Oak Creek Community Center.
The centerpiece of the town center? A new City Hall and public library, an idea that has been bandied about for months and is now part of the recommended plan for Delphi.
But it’s far from official. The Common Council has the final say – despite several requests for a referendum – and aldermen have been mixed on keeping those buildings at Puetz and Howell or moving them to the former Delphi property, near the intersection of Drexel and Howell.
A vote is expected to come in December.
Meanwhile, reaction was also mixed to the town center proposal Monday. Primary concerns centered on traffic congestion as well as the cost to taxpayers.
Components of the plan
The Delphi property, at 85 acres, would allow for several different uses.
According to the plan unveiled Monday, to the east of the City Hall and library would be retail along a “walkable Main Street.”
The type of retail would largely be determined by market conditions, but officials expect restaurants and small- to medium-sized shops to be a part of it. A space for a farmer’s market was also included.
To the west is housing; likely, some combination of condominiums and apartments. A large park and public greenspace is planned for the southwest part of the property.
Officials stressed that the plan was very preliminary and that many changes will likely be made. The design presented to the audience was intended to be a starting point for conversation.
Comments and questions from the crowd were a mixed bag of support and skepticism.
Resident Bill Randall said that he wasn’t comfortable with the proposal largely because he didn’t trust the process.
“I don’t trust people that put things like this out for us and they say all the right sounding words and we’re supposed to accept it like they’re experts,” he said during a question-and-answer session. “I think there needs to be a lot more input from citizens in the community … I think you better think twice before walking in lock-step with this idea.”
Resident Patty Edwards was one of several who wanted information on parking and traffic flow.
“I used to work near Glendale and near the Bayshore Town Center. Although that’s a nice area, I don’t like shopping there primarily because of the traffic patterns,” she said. “It’s sometimes dangerous with the traffic.”
Before any plans move ahead, a comprehensive traffic study will be done to cut down on any traffic-related problems, said Jerry Franke, president of Wispark LLC, which owns the Delphi property.
While the plans may look nice, officials expect it will take years before significant progress is made on driving businesses toward the Delphi site.
What is more immediate is the future of the City Hall and library. If the council next month approves the move, a new library and City Hall could be occupied by 2014, City Administrator Gerald Peterson said.