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Town Center Proposal Creates a Downtown For Oak Creek

Plan is met with mixed reaction from residents at public meeting Monday.

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 .

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.

Reaction

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.

Timeframe

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.

Alan Shore November 01, 2011 at 11:49 PM
Its all about the Mayor getting a bigger office and all and just like Obama, he is spending the tax payers money foolishly. We need businesses in so it will bring down the taxes not drive them up because the City Officals are just not happy where they are and therefore want to put up a new Library and City Hall on the tax payers dime. If a City Hall goes up then I want to be able to sit in the Mayors Chair and spin around on it for awhile and play around in his office since I am paying for it I should be able to enjoy it. You know I am glad that there are elections because then this way we can boot out all the officals that are costing us money instead of trying to save us money. Nobody hardly ever goes to the library any more so why build one. We need a Golden Corral or even a D&B built
Jane November 02, 2011 at 12:27 AM
We need large box store-all these sports in this town how about Dick's or Bass Pro Shop. What about the addition to the high school-who's gonna afford to live here??? Really a new libary-exactly who goes to the libary now a days??? Let's work on getting good jobs to this vacant buildings in the numerous indusrtial parks in Oak Creek- So we all can shop???
Sharon Armstrong November 02, 2011 at 02:26 AM
Congratulations to all who presented the program on the proposed town center - you did an excellent job! I can only hope that when this comes before the council that the Aldermen think of the future and what it could hold for the City of Oak Creek. Can't wait to see the new library and city hall on the Delphi site.
Mark Schaaf November 02, 2011 at 02:28 AM
Just to get this out of the way - criticism of public officials is fair game, personal attacks and name calling isn't. Keep it to the issue. Thanks.
Resident of O.C. Paul November 02, 2011 at 01:08 PM
A ridiculous plan, and Mayor Dicky still ramming a new city hall down the taxpayers throats. Anyone who is behind a new city hall has obviously been brainwashed by Mayor Dicky. A new city hall WILL increase our taxes. And as I stated in a previous comment; this land and it's proximity to new freeway on and off ramps at Drexel Avenue should be left for BUSINESSES to DEVELOP. Business will add to the TAX BASE and LOWER our TAXES. As for the CITY HALL, the current one should be MAINTAINED, and if need be RENOVATED. Doing this won't be as big a burden on the TAXPAYERS. And as for the Library, I haven't been in a library since high school (25 years ago), most of the time when I need to look something up I go to the internet. These are my opinions And as I have stated before: Any development of this land should be put to a referendum, let the residents of Oak Creek decide what is to be done with the land. 3 options for the referendum: Option 1) A town center like Bayshore. Option 2) Leave it for business development. Option 3) A mixed use town center. (Bad Idea)
Dan Vitek November 02, 2011 at 01:18 PM
Its all about EGO Dicky boy wants to see his name on the building the tax payer be dammed , why do you think they are not doing any repair work on the city hall and libary ,so they can justify tearing it down . After reading the mailing it made sense the WI PAC GROUP WANT THE LAND ON HOWELL and Oakwood move city hall sell the land to the High school and then the land that the school board owns can be sold to wi pac . This Mayor is tied into them big time rember the old farmer and his ploy to kick him off his land and how about the lake front land he wants to sell them .
LuvOC November 02, 2011 at 01:34 PM
First of all...do we need a new big library just to compete with surrounding cities, or do we really need it. Do people use the library? I usually see the same old man walking there and sitting on the internet for hours looking at 'catalogs'. But, I think the library should be expanded at its current location to make it more useful for the high school. It would be like a college campus library. We could use a new city hall, the configuration and much of it is outdated. I am concerned with sticking a ton of money into a "downtown OC" at the old Delphi location. They will try to make an upscale setting that will only be ruined by being downstream of the apartments on 13th and Drexel (just look in the crime section of the NOW). I would love to see a Best Buy in OC. 76th location and parking stinks and Racine is too far.
Dirk November 02, 2011 at 03:12 PM
I love how every concerned citizen asks "how many people really use the library" or "I haven't used the library for years." For every one of those comments, there are 10-20 students & children who uses the library on a daily basis. The narcissism here is unbelievable. As an adult who uses the Milwaukee County libraries regularly, I can safely say the OC library is one of the best in the southern suburbs. Finally, as a former small business in Glendale, I do agree the traffic would be an issue, especially on the drag strip commonly known as Howell Avenue.
OC Mom November 02, 2011 at 03:20 PM
I really like the Town Center Proposal. I think finally having a real downtown area to for residents to come together for community events will help foster a stronger sense of community. And yes, we really do need a new library - the reason you hardly see anyone there is because it's outdated and small. Go to Cudahy, Franklin or South Milwaukee libraries and you will see lots of residents, students, children because they have decent, up-to-date facilities and resources.
Sharon Armstrong November 02, 2011 at 03:53 PM
To Dirk and OC Mom - thank you for your positive comments. I have one more comment to make and that is in regards to the traffic question. I lived in Oak Creek when AC Spark Plug, Delco and Delphi were in its prime and hired hundreds of employees. I wish you could have seen the traffic when Howell Avenue and Drexel Avenue were not like they are now and the company's traffic let out at the same time as the schools. Talk about traffic???
Juniper November 02, 2011 at 04:08 PM
I LOVE the Town Center Proposal. I would LOVE to spend my money (and support Oak Creek's tax base) at businesses here in my community instead of driving to Glendale, Wauwatosa, Greenfield, or Pleasant Prairie when my kids grow out of their shoes & clothing or for holiday shopping. I would love a local library as nice and modern as the other libraries we visit when I borrow - instead of purchase - new books and magazines. (More $ for the shoes and clothing!) And...I would pay more in property taxes to support the new development. Oak Creek taxes are a bargain. Even with a 50% tax increase my taxes would still be less than if my house was located in most Milwaukee suburbs or the city of Milwaukee. It's why folks are still building and moving here.
OC Mom November 02, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Looks like someone didn't catch the no personal attacks and name calling post from our editor.
Resident of O.C. Paul November 02, 2011 at 05:30 PM
I don't remember electing Dicky Boelender as KING of Oak Creek. I think Dick and the council should think about how they run the city, and how they treat the TAXPAYERS/CITIZENS before the next elections, otherwise they will have to get a REAL JOB, because they should have the best interests of the taxpayers and city in a faltering economy in mind. Now why I support fixing and renovating Oak Creek's city hall is this: For the past couple decades Milwaukee's city hall was looking rough around the edges, did they tear it down? NO, Milwaukee didn't tear down their city hall instead they FIXED UP AND RENOVATED it, saving taxpayers MILLIONS OF DOLLARS. Oak Creeks city hall was designed and built when Oak Creek Had just been formed, it's designers designed it to be a symbol of Oak Creek, and part of what defines the city, just as how the U.S. Capitol, Wisconsin's Capitol, or Milwaukee's City Hall are symbols of their respective communities. Don't forget, at the time Oak Creek was incorporated it's biggest employer (Delco electronics) was involved in making guidance systems for rockets and missiles...modern age devices at the time, and the city hall was designed to reflect this new modern era, it's what defined Oak Creek at the time, getting rid of it is like getting rid of the U.S. Capitol because the U.S. Capitol was outdated and no longer SYMBOLIZED the time.
Dean in O.C. November 02, 2011 at 05:41 PM
I agree with Jill that something will need to be done about the apartments at 13th and Drexel or this city center will be headed in the direction of Northridge not long after it is complete. As for the plan, I would like to see some projections on what this will do to the tax base after it is completed. Finally, what about the Fire Station currently by City Hall? Where does that go and who is going to pay for that?
Mark Schaaf November 02, 2011 at 06:05 PM
Dean - the fire station next to City Hall would be moved to some empty land on Centennial Drive across from the post office. The number given at the meeting as far as projected tax base goes was $300 million to $500 million in new taxable value.
Laurel Johnson November 02, 2011 at 06:14 PM
Who uses the library? About 50% of Oak Creek residents have a library card. We have several users from surrounding communities- including Milwaukee, whose own libraries have had their hours cut. So far this year we have registered 1,157 new users. Last month we circulated 46,500 items & our meeting room was used every day by non-profit groups and for library programs. Your neighbors that are looking for jobs or don’t have their own computers at home come here almost every day. Students come here after school and on the weekends to work on projects and to study. Families bring their young children here for story times, to prepare them for when they enter school. And guess what, we even have many patrons who still enjoy checking out actual books.
Dan Vitek November 02, 2011 at 06:24 PM
If people recall not to long ago there was a big uproar in the city of New Berlin the devolper was suppose to put in hi end condos and decide he could make more money on low coast apts. Went to court and the devolper won is this what we need in O.C. we already have enough subsized housing and what about the effect on the school system more kids in the schools at more coast to the taxpayer not to mention the increase in crime just ask the people in New Berlin.
Resident of O.C. Paul November 02, 2011 at 06:30 PM
Nice catch Dan.
Mark B November 02, 2011 at 07:34 PM
"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." So in other words, What they really want is a new city hall and library. The business and retail development can come at a later date. How about we focus on the business end first to build the tax base and consider the municipal buildings later? This is all about getting new city facilities. The fire department got a new building and HQ in station #3 in 2000. The police got a new HQ on Ryan Rd in 2001. The new municipal yard complex was recently built on Puetz. Everyone got new diggs except city hall and now they feel it's their turn. Put it to a referendum and let the people who are going to pay for it decide. Oak Creek has 85 acres of valuable commercial land. Why would anyone want to put a City Hall and Library and any other non-tax revenue buildings at that particular site?
jas23 November 03, 2011 at 08:24 PM
Do you really think someone will buy a condo next to railroad tracks?
jas23 November 03, 2011 at 08:26 PM
Do you really think someone would want to buy a condo right buy railraod tracks and a high crime area? Keep the library by the school where kids have access to it.
Alan Shore November 06, 2011 at 10:48 AM
I never heard of the Oak Creek Library being filled to capacity ever, and if these people say that all these kids use it then obviously they never been to the O.C. Library. So why build something new when what you have already there and is able to take in the only 10-20 kids that they think that goes there alot. The schools need to have their own library which allows kids to go there and get books. People have computers with internet access in their own homes (unless they are too cheap to have it.) One would think that it would be more cost effective to get a computer in your home and have internet access instead of building the Taj Mahal of libraries and City Halls then sticking it to the tax payer. For those that want a new City Hall and Library then let them pay for it out of their own pockets and leave the tax payers out of it.
Alan Shore November 06, 2011 at 10:52 AM
Have an Internet Cafe go into one of these stores and then it will be available to everyone and it wont cost the tax payers.
Alan Shore November 06, 2011 at 10:53 AM
Have a Barns & Noble go in there as well then people can do all the reseach they want and again its not costing the tax payer anything
CANDY STEIN May 04, 2012 at 12:40 PM
YOU ARE CORRECT, WHY DO WE NEED A NEW CITY HALL? WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE OLD ONE?

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