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Oak Creek Officials Look Forward On Delphi Redevelopment

Aldermen will try to put last week's divisive vote behind them.

The Feb. 7 vote to move the Oak Creek City Hall and Public Library to the former Delphi site was the culmination of months of public meetings, discussion and conflicting opinions.

It ended with a contentious, two-hour debate and a tie vote broken by Mayor Al Foeckler.

Now, Oak Creek aldermen and city leaders will try to put that vote behind them and move forward on what's been called one of the top development sites in the Milwaukee area.

"I think the job of the council moving forward, and the next mayor and the next council, is to grasp the opportunity and make the most of it," Foeckler said.

Foeckler expects it to take two years before one or both civic buildings are constructed on the Delphi site, 7929 S. Howell Ave.

They could be built at the same time, or the council could choose to stagger construction and build the library first. Decisions will also have to be made on the size, design and cost of each building.

But Foeckler said he wouldn't be surprised if private development started in the meantime. Officials say talks have been held privately with several companies that have expressed interest in the site.

"There are businesses already that want in on this concept," Foeckler said of the town center proposal, which creates a sort of downtown for Oak Creek and includes a mix of housing, office space and retail.

"There may be restaurants, retailers, health care providers out there that want to get in and occupy space there. Ultimately, the council is going to adopt a master plan development and lay out the streets and we're going to know where buildings can go and where parking is going to be. Once that's in place, there's going to be development that precedes city hall and library, and I would expect that to happen."

Alderman Ken Gehl, who voted for the plan, said the council has proven it can make difficult decisions and then move on with the business of Oak Creek. Everyone realizes the opportunity at Delphi, the job creation possibilities and the boost it could give to the city's tax base, he said.

"There were differing opinions, given the split vote on the council. That's OK. That's what the political process is for," he said. "Now it's time to get the planning process going full steam."

Alderman Steve Scaffidi, who voted against the plan, agreed, saying "we have to focus now on what's going to happen there, and how soon it's going to happen, what kind of jobs we're going to bring into this town ... to go back and revisit (last week's vote) serves no purpose."

The next immediate steps are finalizing the details of a proposed land swap and forming a tax-incremental financing district on the 85-acre Delphi site.

Under the land swap, the school district exchanges 50 acres of land at Oakwood and Howell avenues for the Civic Center site, at the corner of Puetz and Howell. The Civic Center site could then potentially be used for a future expansion of Oak Creek High School, while the land on Oakwood could be used in the development of a business park.

The city of Oak Creek would get seven acres at the Delphi property to construct the library and city hall.

The Oak Creek-Franklin School Board met in closed session Monday to confer with legal counsel and discuss the exchange of properties. The school district has previously said it is open to the swap and city officials say the general parameters of the deal are agreed upon.

The city will also create a tax-incremental financing district at the Delphi site. TIF districts allows municipalities or developers to borrow money for redevelopment, and repay the loan using the increased tax increment.

Foeckler reiterated that no new tax dollars will be used to construct the city hall or library. The city will use money it gets annually through the We Energies power plant on Elm Road.

"I think people may have mis-perceived that," he said. "That money we're using to build these buildings, we'll invest in that area and get a higher return, in my opinion. I hope that the taxpayers recognize and understand that."

Harry Johnson February 17, 2012 at 06:47 PM
"Foeckler reiterated that no new tax dollars will be used to construct the city hall or library. The city will use money it gets annually through the We Energies power plant on Elm Road." And the stuff the We Energies money should have been spent on will be paid for by new tax dollars. They must think we're all rubes.
Patriot February 18, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Ya well just remember those individuals come election time!!! Since our elected leaders with whom we trust in find it not neccessary to ask the people when it comes to major decisions as such MUST BE VOTED OUT PERIOD!!!!! So tired of the hey look at what we did, I did that, attitude!! In the end the tax payer of OC gets SCREWED!!
Richard February 18, 2012 at 05:21 PM
Mr. Foeckler maybe the impact money you get from We Energies could be used for what it was intended for !!Get the residents some clean Water to drink!! Ken Gehl You also did nothing about water problem!
vocal local 1 February 19, 2012 at 12:05 AM
BACK TO REALITY. Alan Foeckler just attended the President Obama/Masterlock ceramonies and still desires to turn nearby, PRIME, OC manufacturing land with trucking access to the I system per the Drexel Interchange, into failing commercial and retail and relocate the library in the process? Reportedly, to create minimum wage, no benefit, JOBS in the area. Do we need to remind him the number of employee's Delfi employed and their wage and benefit scales? Those of you in the third district need to review your alderman's voting record--and weep. He voted last week not to support the move and this week speaks against RECONSIDERATION. Those Aldermen of the council that voted for moving the Library to the Delphi Property and the "APPOINTED" mayor that broke the tie in favor of can at the next meeting of the council Reconsider their grave error. The school district has not to my understanding giving the city father's any reason to state that they are considering a trade. AND, will there be a trade considering the city has seven acres to exchange with the schools for fifty or will money again transfer hands in one day with the city again taking a loss in WisPark's favor? Foeckler obviously has not taken the time to review the cities financial records which evidence we'll be millions of dollars in debt by the end of this year without any building and chooses not to remember the mitigation and pulic utility aide constraints which make each unstable funding when considering debt.
vocal local 1 February 19, 2012 at 12:11 AM
Patriot, do you live in the third district?
vocal local 1 February 19, 2012 at 12:26 AM
Isn't this a shame? We have residents living in OC without water. Residents who's well's are contamidated presumedly from the coal plant or fly ash storage.We Energies is supplying water to some identified but others not as they earn to much I was told by one resident last summer. This same problem is experienced in other areas of the US adjacent to (clean/safe/necessary/economic) coal generated electric plants. Our city supplies water to North Park, Wind Point, Caledonia, Franklin but we don't have the infra-structure to service our own, plus we bottle and sell it under the Clair Water Label in partnership with Black Bear Soda (Is this an example of public/private partnership?) and we certainly pay the water works employees excessive salaries and give them excellent benefits but we can't provide clean water to residents withiin our city. "Grandpa, tell me bout the good ole days."

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