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Mayor Breaks Tie As City Hall, Library Relocation Plans Approved

Council split on Delphi decision.

Mayor Al Foeckler, who was appointed by the Common Council following the death of Dick Bolender, said all along he supported moving the library and city hall to the former Delphi site. But he wasn't sure what he would do if the council was split.

On Tuesday, with the council divided 3-3, we found out our answer.

"With great respect for Mayor Bolender, Mayor Bolender's vision for the Delphi site and the thousands of residents that voted Mayor Bolender to three terms as mayor of Oak Creek, I vote aye," Foeckler said in casting the deciding vote to move forward plans to relocate the city hall and library to the corner of Drexel and Howell avenues.

Voting in favor of the plan were Aldermen Tom Michalski, Ken Gehl and Dan Jakubcyzk.

Aldermen Steve Scaffidi, Michael Toman and Dan Bukiewicz were opposed, saying they needed more questions answered, specifically from the Oak Creek-Franklin School District.

That's because the next step is to negotiate with the school district on land swaps that, as proposed, would end with the school district exchanging 50 acres of land it owns on Oakwood Road and Howell Avenue with the city for the 12-acre Civic Center site - where the city hall and library now stand at Puetz Road and Howell Avenue.

The city, in turn, would swap the Oakwood land with Wispark, the developer and owner of the Delphi property, for seven acres at Delphi to construct the civic buildings as part of a town-center development.

Aldermen said they still didn't have a clear answer from the school district on how its feels about the proposal. But what transpired during a two-hour discussion was something of a chicken-and-the-egg scenario, as some city officials said the school district was waiting on the direction from the council.

City Attorney Larry Haskin said the general parameters of the land swap - including no money changing hands between the school district and city - have been agreed on and now negotiations will hammer out the details. Both the school board and common council would have to give final approval.

If that final approval doesn't come, aldermen would have to re-evaluate their options.

All six aldermen said they supported building a new library at the Delphi site. But they differed on other aspects, including the city hall location and how quickly to proceed.

Gehl, one of the alderman voting for the proposal, said that "economically, it makes the most sense to have these buildings at the Delphi site. The opportunity there is immense ... not only from a revenue standpoint, but an opportunity for our citizenry for a new town center - restaurants, shopping, professional services we don't currently have. That opportunity is too great to pass up."

But Toman, who voted in opposition, said he didn't support the land swaps, in addition to concerns about moving forward too soon and the effects of a high school expansion.

"We need a little more input," he said. "There's no sense in making a tens-of-millions of dollars decision this night when there's still some questions out on this council."

Then there's Foeckler's vote.

Some angst had built in the past several weeks about having a non-elected official in Foeckler cast the deciding vote in a major Oak Creek issue that has been debated for months.

Because, as many have pointed out, it's one that could start a domino effect throughout the community: the future of Oak Creek High School, which could be expanded onto the Civic Center site; the fire station next to the high school, which may be relocated to Centennial Drive; the possible development at Delphi, regarded as one of the top redevelopment projects in the entire region; and a proposed business park near Howell and Oakwood.

In an earlier interview, Scaffidi warned against Foeckler making a tie-breaking vote, saying he would make a multi-million dollar decision after being appointed by three aldermen.

"If Al casts a tie-breaking vote on this, we will do damage to the reputation and the integrity of the council for years," Scaffidi said Jan. 30.

But Foeckler reiterated Tuesday his support for the proposal, noting a projected 1,500 jobs created with a new business park on Oakwood Road, and said it will lead to a stronger Delphi development.

"It's a win-win-win situation. It's a win at Delphi, it's a win at the corner here (of Puetz and Howell) and it's a win at Howell and Drexel," he said. "Significant tax base being generated, significant number of jobs being generated."

Marc Petersen February 08, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Totally Bogus! 6 people get to decide what 40,000 have to pay for. This should have been a referendum NO QUESTIONS! The people continue to get the shaft. GOVT is out of control.
SaveOCNow February 08, 2012 at 04:37 AM
Anyone voting for this tonight should be voted out the first chance we get. We'll be paying for this shortsightedness for decades.
Bob February 08, 2012 at 05:15 AM
Completely predictable. To use Mayor Bolender as an excuse to vote for this is crazy. Let an elected Mayor be the voice of the people, not one hand picked by those in favor of the project.
Jenny February 08, 2012 at 12:47 PM
YAY!!!!! This is such an exciting opportunity for Oak Creek. I voted for Mayor Bolender (as did the majority of Oak Creek voters) and wholeheartedly agreed with his vision for the future of Oak Creek. Mayor Foeckler...thank you!!!
Mark B February 08, 2012 at 01:11 PM
So an unelected official who was appointed by the common council was able to cast the deciding vote? This exactly the kind of garbage I said was going to happen back when Foeckler was appointed. http://oakcreek.patch.com/articles/former-alderman-appointed-oak-creek-mayor#comments_list This should have been brought to referendum and a decision made AFTER the election for mayor. Banana Republic...
mom of 8 February 08, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Great news!!! Mayor Bolender is smiling down!
Gary Yost February 08, 2012 at 01:52 PM
I, as well and many others, support doing something with the site but question the need to decide on this issue now as we do not have an elected major. Is there a reason this was not brought to vote by the people of Oak Creek? What companies (specific names) are going to relocate or start a new business in Oak Creek when this new "city center" is developed? Does the council realize how much vacant retail and commercial property space we have available already in Oak Creek? Can anyone involved answer these questions completely?
Resident of O.C. Paul February 08, 2012 at 02:18 PM
This issue SHOULD NOT have been decided by an INTERIM MAYOR, He should be removed from office.
Dan Vitek February 08, 2012 at 04:05 PM
We have a man who is my alderman that is running for county supervisor who cannot keep his word I have had numerous talks with him and he was against this whole idea ,What happen ?? WE DO NOT NEED A MAN IN ANY OFFICE WHO CANNOT KEEP HIS WORD. iT IS TIME TO GET OUT THE RCALL PAPERS . WE HAVE PEOPLE IN OFFICE THAT DO NOT LISTEN TO THE TAXPAYERS BUT TO THE BIG MONEY INTEREST . The used car salepeople from wepack put on a dog and pony show and the idiots on the board bought into it and cannot tell fact from fiction . The high school stands to lose 50 acres and we give them the 7 acres at city hall we then give wepack the 50 acres for peanuts give me a break we already sold them land for less then we paid for it . Big time promise to put up big town center at the Delhi site , check with the people in New Berlin they too were promised a town center guess what they ended up with low coast apts and housing because the develper coud turn it over faster and make money on it . The old saying if it sounds to good to true it probably isnt
Patriot February 08, 2012 at 05:28 PM
WOW!! I am amazed at how a group of 6 individuals and an interim Mayor can decide something of this magnitude!! This most def should have been put up as a referendum and allow the citizens of Oak Creek to decide. Just another power grab and look at what we did. Screw the people of Oak Creek they dont see into the future like we do. BS An interim Mayor as the deciding vote. Nobody seen that coming did they. Its obvious why he was handpicked to fill Bolender shoes. This is wrong and given the present state of the economy and with all the empty store fronts in Oak Creek now new and old the tax payer will def be on the hook for this.
RocketMom February 08, 2012 at 07:18 PM
Prime commercial land, *with* a freeway off ramp - Good (and SUSTAINBLE jobs) have just been dealt a blow by Oak Creek leadership. What a shame. Neighboring cities such as South Milwaukee could have also benefitted from this development. Instead it's now on your taxpayers backs. Come on over to South Milwaukee y'all!
BringBackOakCreek09 February 08, 2012 at 08:08 PM
This is getting out of hand, he may have the title of mayor but he had no right to approve this. This will be fought! This is waste of money, land and time. use your heads. The oak creek common council disappoints once again. just a sad day.
jack ryan February 09, 2012 at 12:10 AM
There are those with foresight and those with no sight. I myself do not have the foresight, but vote for people who do.
Joan Ketchum February 09, 2012 at 02:29 AM
This appears to be a case of "government without representation". This decision surely could have waited until our new mayor was elected. The only reason to push this now is the fear that it wouldn't pass if the residents had a chance to vote on it. I guess the joke is on us for trusting the council to act responsibly. Joan K
Mr.Ed February 09, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I can't even begin to express my disappointment in this decision. Not the decision itself but the inability to put this off until after the elections and continue to gather information in the interim. I'm also saddened to think we are going to build a library away from the high school. Apparently library's and education have no place being next to each other. I'm sure we'll have a Starbucks in the library though, maybe we can make it just like Barnes and Noble on 76th Street, only twice as big! (sarcasm)
doc1954 February 09, 2012 at 03:57 PM
I hope the council takes in to consideration that with the new on/off ramp going in on drexel ave,that the Delphi area will now be more vulnerable to crooks and thiefs who look for an area to rob that is fast on/fast off from interstates.
G February 10, 2012 at 03:30 AM
Total BS. Huge money out of our pocket decided by an appointed, not voted in official. Isn't that what a referendum is for? !!!!! Can we recall an appointed bozo?
vocal local 1 February 10, 2012 at 06:54 AM
CHARADES. Both Toman and Scaffidi have supported the financing and moving of both city hall and the library. Now because they need your vote they voted against with full knowledge that it would become a tie and the "acting" mayor would break the tie in favor of big DEBT. We don't need a new library. WE NEED TO CUT THE COST OF LIBRARY EMPLOYEES. Library budget is 800,000 per year. OF that over 600,000 is employee salaries with cut hours of operation. If the library is too small why haven't we increased the hours of operation? Financials were incorrect. Were receiving 1.4 mil per unit or 2.8 if both run in the preceeding year. Currently, both are down. I hope they fix the noise problems from the water intake. VERY LOUD and annoying.
RocketMom February 10, 2012 at 12:24 PM
This is just the land and just the beginning. How much will the construction cost? South Miilwaukee's new high school and performing arts center (which is awesome by the way) cost $42 Million and that was almost 10 years ago. The taxpayer blood letting will not end here.
Stayathome February 10, 2012 at 01:28 PM
Ageed RocketMom. And in this day and age of internet, e-books, 3G phones, etc., who even uses the library anymore. Total waste of money. And it will be BIG money.
James Ruetz February 12, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Why the rush to decision? There are many options that should be reviewed for either fixing up city hall or moving it. I for one agree that city hall needs a significant upgrade - besides being ineffecient it is does not represent one of the fastest growing communities in Wisconsin very well. However, taking prime realestate off the tax roles is a key factor against the idea of putting it on the Delphi site. I also agree with those individuals who have commented that this decision should not rest in the hands of an unelected offical. The common council should immediately vote to recend the earlier vote and hold this matter over until after the elections - so that ALL options can be properly vetted. If the current decision ends being the best economically for the tax payers of Oak Creek then it will be able to standup against other ideas. Jim Ruetz- CDA Oak Creek.
Stayathome February 12, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Referendum? You mean like the one South Milwaukee School district had, what, 4-5 times before it finally passed? That 42 million dollar bohemoth was shoved down our throats. Dont you know if you say "No" on a referendum, they'll just keep bringing it back till they get the results they want.
O. C. Citizen February 14, 2012 at 04:12 AM
For all the taxpayers out there thinking that there should be a referendum on this project, about one year ago your current council voted to take away the right of the taxpayer in Oak Creek to have said referendum. They changed the charter ordinance to give the Mayor and Council exclusive authority over real estate purchases and costs of future buildings. The Common council can vote to have a referendum if they so choose but it is not mandated.
Theresa February 17, 2012 at 09:08 AM
I agree . With my younger son and now my 9 year old gd we rarely go to the library. It may be sad but it is a sign of the times. Why go there when it is all at your finger tips in your own home. I also think by adding onto the school it is only adding to already dangerous traffic conditions. They have hundreds of students coming and going in an already bussling part of town. To me this issue is an insult to the tax papers from all i have read and heard its about 2 to 1 against this yet we were just ignored.
Theresa February 17, 2012 at 09:11 AM
This decision was made a long time ago. It didn't matter what the residents wanted .Like I said way to take care of your own and ignore the votes/ tax payers.
Theresa February 17, 2012 at 09:19 AM
As a mom of 8 are you really looking forward to the HUGE price tag that comes with this . The CC ignored the majority of us tax payers. Oak Creek has some of the highest taxes in the state , How long do you think all will stay here and keep paying them if their concerns are ignored . Then who will foot the bills for these extravagant buildings?

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