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School Board Signs Off On Land Swap

Civic Center site would be used for high school expansion.

The Oak Creek-Franklin School Board approved a land-swap agreement with the city of Oak Creek Monday in which the current Civic Center site would be used for a future expansion of .

The board will exchange 50 acres of undeveloped property at Oakwood and Howell avenues for the Civic Center site at the corner of Puetz and Howell. The city will then exchange the Oakwood land with Wispark, the development arm of We Energies, for seven acres at the former Delphi site on which to build a library and city hall. Wispark plans to develop the Oakwood land into a business park.

The agreement passed the board 4-1, with board member Mark Verhalen casting the lone opposing vote.

The district's idea is to build a ninth-grade center on the land the Civic Center site, though officials say any construction or formal plans is a long way off.

Board members said it would be more cost efficient to expand the high school on that site rather than construct a second high school on Oakwood Road, which was the previous plan.

"In a lot of ways, this is a great idea," School Board member Brian Kaminski said. "It accommodates the school district's needs. It's friendly to the taxpayers on more than just the school district level."

Verhalen, who is running for mayor, disagreed, saying he did not feel the value of the two properties is equal.

In addition, residents who spoke at the meeting said the district needed to solicit more public input on the plan.

"I think the school board is being taken advantage of," Verhalen said. "In the bigger picture, I think the taxpayers of the city are being taken advantage of."

Eyes Wide Open March 13, 2012 at 03:45 AM
Who do they think they are voting on something this huge without having any public input or showing us their plans. (Because they have no plans, Just arrogance). 4 of the 5 School Board Members are going to tell us what we should do with the City Hall, Library and Fire Station land, Really! Mason, Kaminski, Borchard and Carini should answer to the tax payer's of Oak Creek not to the people stroking their ego. This was never discussed with the tax payer's. (No the February 23rd meeting was held by the City "NOT" the School Board) No meetings no nothing. They all should be recalled. Not for voting on this, but for NOT letting the public way in and hear their thoughts and input before making a huge decision for our future needs for our children. Most of them don't even have children in the district anymore. So why do they care if we have 3000 Children in one School. Oak Creek isn't getting any smaller, But in the next 5-10 years we will be busting at the seems with High School Children. This will all have to go to referendum before any ground is broken, But why, why couldn't they just hold a public information meeting and let the public way in. Lets Recall the four of them and show them we are not just tax paying residents, but residents that also have a voice.
vocal local 1 March 13, 2012 at 10:29 AM
Mark Schraf was at the same meeting I was he sat right next to Scaffidi in the front row with Al Foeckler and the cities attorney. Unfortunately, his reporting is slanted. What Verhalen suggested was for the city to lift their legal claim on Rights of First Refusal so that the schools who got a deal on purchase price from MMSD could glean significant profit from the sale. School bought the property for 42,000 per acre and are selling it for the same. On the open market they could sell that property for over a hundred thousand per acre and reduce building costs with the profit thereby relieving you and me of taxation costs. Instead, the city will buy the property back from the schools, sell to Wis Park at the same price and you and I will pay thru the nose again. The city will again most likely grant WisPark a huge property tax break as it has with WisPark’s other undeveloped properties it has bought up in the city while the lands lay undeveloped. Remember, the city forced MMSD against the advice of Larry Haskin’s long term city attorney for OC.to sell them the property a few years back. Had WisPark bought the property from MMSD, another of our govt. taxing agencies, they would have paid market price and you and I the taxpayers would have saved a chunk of change. ASK YOURSELF WHY ONE TAXING AGENCY WOULD MANIPULATE THE LAW AND USE THE LAWS TO FORCE A SALE FOR THE PROFIT OF BIG ENERGY, A FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION AND ASK YOURSELF IF THESE DEALS ARE REALLY LEGAL?.
Mike March 13, 2012 at 01:04 PM
It is diappointing to me that the School Board has chosen a short-term band aid over a long term solution. We should be working toward building the inevitable second high school in Oak Creek, not wasting our money on a semi-campus for freshmen on the current Civic Center site. Do it once, do it right, and be done.
Sharon Armstrong March 13, 2012 at 01:13 PM
Congratulations to the School Board for making an excellent decision!
Resident of O.C. Paul March 13, 2012 at 01:21 PM
Vocal Local, I'm with you on Scaffidi, he showed his true colors in the Waukesha water talks, here's the article: http://oakcreek.patch.com/articles/mayor-only-speaking-for-himself-on-water-letter-alderman-says, to quote from the article "Scaffidi said he believes Oak Creek should continue to investigate the possibility of providing Waukesha with Lake Michigan water, which he said would benefit the city financially and strengthen the city's water utility." What city is Scaffidi running for mayor of Waukesha or Oak Creek? If he's for Waukesha, then he should move to Waukesha. The only thing sending water to Waukesha will do is make Waukesha more attractive to businesses leaving more vacant buildings in Oak Creek, all you have to do is look at the sprawl in Waukesha over the past couple of decades. A city that is low on water should be butting the brakes on growth instead of promoting it. If businesses favor Waukesha, which they do, what will Wispark do with the vacant buildings? Oak Creek should declare Eminent Domain on these sites and leave Wispark with NOTHING. and save all of us taxpayers a boat load of money.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 13, 2012 at 01:26 PM
An excellent decision? trading 50 acres for 7??? HA HA HA HA HA
Eyes Wide Open March 13, 2012 at 01:35 PM
Vocal Local 1, I was unable to attend the meeting last night, But did talk to someone who was in attendance. Did they ever say what their plan was for making this decision? What about extra curricular activities. Right now we have 85 freshman a year playing football. That number will double over time with one High School at all levels of sports (Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors). That's just football! What about Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball, Swimming, Drama, Band, Track the list goes on and on an on. So only the few select will be able to participate, last time I checked we all pay school tax. This won't be fair for these kids. Nobody probably even raised the question about traffic flow for our community. Oh that's right, the NEW Downtown will be at Drexel & Howell, forget about Puetz & Howell thats to old of a location for us. They want NEW. What a joke this City has become. One last comment, Wis Park (WE Energies) stands to make out more then anyone here. What a SLAP in the face to the Residents of Oak Creek.
Eyes Wide Open March 13, 2012 at 01:36 PM
Vocal Local 1, I was unable to attend the meeting last night, But did talk to someone who was in attendance. Did they ever say what their plan was for making this decision? What about extra curricular activities. Right now we have 85 freshman a year playing football. That number will double over time with one High School at all levels of sports (Sophomores, Juniors, Seniors). That's just football! What about Soccer, Tennis, Volleyball, Basketball, Baseball, Swimming, Drama, Band, Track the list goes on and on an on. So only the few select will be able to participate, last time I checked we all pay school tax. This won't be fair for these kids. Nobody probably even raised the question about traffic flow for our community. Oh that's right, the NEW Downtown will be at Drexel & Howell, forget about Puetz & Howell thats to old of a location for us. They want NEW. What a joke this City has become. One last comment, Wis Park (WE Energies) stands to make out more then anyone here. What a SLAP in the face to the Residents of Oak Creek.
BringBackOakCreek09 March 13, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Oak Creek once again making bad decisions on our time. Thanks to our wonderful city council. Put this up referendum and let the people decide. Between the city hall, the high school and our horrible mayor. oak creek is heading to the point of no return. This is very disappointing.
oak creek resident March 13, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Wow shortsighted anyone? Selling water to Waukesha will lower the rates for water in oak creek, while raising waukesha's rates. Win-win for OC.
vocal local 1 March 13, 2012 at 09:31 PM
Sharon would you please tell me what is so excellent about the school district swapping fifty acres of land at 42,000 an acre, the price they paid the city for it in 2009 that is valued today at b/w 100 and 130,000 dollars per acre so that the city can sell it to WisPark for 2.4 mil not the real market price of 5 mil? That land originally cost the Schools 2.4 Mil. Today on the open market had the city followed Verhalen's request and lifted the Rights of First Refusal could have been sold for at least five mil. That five mil would have saved OC residents significant building cost financing that we will pay via taxation. Remember the school district is about 50 mil in debt as I write. Also please answer why WisPark, a for profit large utility company is getting all the land from the city at a reduced price and post huge property tax breaks on the lands? They paid less in taxes for their large holding of MMSD property than Earl Geifer paid on his 23 acre farm. The city has extended developmental time considering the economy. Further, Your choice of Mayor as early as May 6th 2009 prior to the original purchase from MMSD was making motions on the council floor in support of We Energies/WisPark pending sale we the public were not aware of. ”Ald. Scaffidi, seconded by Ald. Michalski, moved to adopt Resolution No. 10981-050509, approving the release of a public utility and drainage easement created by virtue of Certified Survey Map No. 1246 (MMSD land) (Oakwood and Howell).”
vocal local 1 March 13, 2012 at 09:35 PM
Sorry OC Resident you must be a newbe to the community. We've never seen a water rate decrease. We pay higher water bills than any community we sell water to and we sell to several.
CB March 13, 2012 at 09:44 PM
I love the idea of keeping our high school in tact and building on creatively. Look at Arrowhead people! This is what they have done and it is a great success! As for extra curricular, they are number one in sooooo many of these! It can work and will if people accept change and agree to disagree and work together. Oh, silly me....most comments are very one sided and close minded...just saying.
OC Grad March 13, 2012 at 09:45 PM
I see nothing wrong with looking into the possibility of providing Waukesha with Lake Michigan water if it my benefit Oak Creek financially. Sounds like a sound idea.
vocal local 1 March 13, 2012 at 10:28 PM
Obviously a OC Graduate. Didn't they teach you about the Continental Divide and how water cycles naturally? When man interferes with nature all kinds of bad things happen. Would you like to see four Great Lakes instead of five? Would you like to see development in Waukesha instead of here in OC? Are you a member of the OC council or School Board? It is the non-factual opinions like yours and Armstrongs that rule here in OC which is why we have a spendthrift run away local government. Last night Kathy Borchardt was running at the mouth, even admitted she didn't understand what Verhalen's numbers meant but she voted to give away prime virgin land to a rich and powerful for profit public utility. Her vote cost OC residents at least 2.6 million in loses of revenue that you and I will make up in property tax payments. She never heard comments from the residents in attendance or looked at supporting documentation proving the city lied to the residents at the February public meeting with the school board but in ignorance she spouted her opinions in total false arrogance. I think they’re all drinking kool aide supplied by Mr. Jones or maybe it’s the water…lol.
Sharon Armstrong March 14, 2012 at 12:29 AM
CB - Thank goodness we are not closed minded! Arrowhead is a perfect example and I couldn't agree with you more. So glad there are people who think like us!!
Andy March 14, 2012 at 12:34 AM
vocal local 1 it sounds like you hate it here..Do you know the exact plans for the high school at the old civic center or are you just assuming it is going to be bad without knowing ? Have you seen the plans? I didn't think they released them yet.. It could be great.. Think positive this is still a great city and great community.
OC Grad March 14, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Breaking news from vocal local 1. Selling Lake Michigan water to Waukesha will drain the Great Lakes.You have got to be kidding me.The truth is Waukesha would be required to return the same amount of clean treated water back into the Lake Michigan basin that it buys.Vocal local 1 you are a Great Lake of misinformation. I can tell you did not graduate from Oak Creek High.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 14, 2012 at 03:27 AM
I do business with a company that keeps moving further from Milwaukee even though most of their customers are in Milwaukee County. I also use to frequent the Woodcraft store when it was in West Allis, but since it moved out to Brookfield I rarely go there, choosing to do my shopping through their competitors catalogs, and there are other stores I use to frequent, but don't anymore because they are further away than I care to travel. And if we want to really look at business development in Oak Creek let's start looking at all the vacant commercial buildings here...Maybe Oak Creek should focus on luring businesses to Oak Creek instead of worrying about building a replacement for a city hall that with advances in technology could, with proper maintenance and a bit of remodeling, be usable for many years to come, but we would rather throw money away, and then stiff the taxpayers with a bill because the school district and city are already operating with a deficit, and being run by people that have either been blinded by thinking government has bottomless pockets, think that serving big corporations takes precedence over serving the residents of the city, or are too ignorant to care about anyone but their selves and their agenda. Running a city with a budget deficit, and not controlling it's spending is the perfect excuse for the city to start raising taxes, then those backing the out of control spending will be singing a different tune when they get their tax bill.
Resident of O.C. Paul March 14, 2012 at 03:39 AM
I was watching a documentary on the Great Lakes Watershed a few years ago, and it was stated in that documentary that if water is allowed to be pumped out of the Great Lakes Watershed in any volume to communities a few miles outside of the watershed that it will allow water to be pumped to places as far away as Las Vegas, and we all know what supplying water to Las Vegas from the Colorado has done to the Colorado River Delta...Just for those that don't: The Colorado River Delta is a trickle compared to what it once was. There is a reason why the Native Indians never resided in the south east in any great numbers, it's a desert , and always will be a desert, but because someone felt they were being dis serviced, they cried for water, got the U.S. government to allow the diversion of water, and you can see what has happened to the area where the water once naturally flowed. The documentary also stated that if water were allowed to be pumped out of the Great Lakes Watershed that the level of the lakes will drop significantly...and they were estimating a drop of several feet due to further development that would now become available in the southwest U.S. due to fresh water from the great lakes.
vocal local 1 March 14, 2012 at 08:58 AM
The Schools future needs planning committee did look at the creation of a 9th grade building west of the HS and rejected the idea. We will again pay for more costly studies. The citizenry was not notified as the press was silent and the listing of this item on the agenda did not inform the residents that the board was going to push through a major community decision. Arrowhead was repeatedly discussed and rejected by the needs committee. I don’t recall if Arrowhead had police in the school but I remind you we do. Our students, the children of OC residents are so out of control that we need a police officer on duty to maintain order? Can we agree most 9th graders are pulling at the reins? Inclusion with older students does control some of the behaviors as the older student becomes the role model. Most of us want the best education we can provide for the children. A rash, hasty, costly long term decision has been made by the board in ignorance as evidenced by their comments. Do they understand the collateral effects? Scaffidi worked diligently in this pursuit in closed session out of the view of his constituents and now will not fess up to his role and need to push big spending thru as he attempts to gain support for his mayoral desires. Discourse is good in that it often leads to enlightenment and good decision making instead of repeated errors and long term consequences as I fear we face due to lack of transparency and manipulation by city officials.
vocal local 1 March 14, 2012 at 09:24 AM
Sharon how would you even know about Arrowhead unless coaxed by Dennis Havey, President of the Library Board who did sit on the schools needs committee? I wish I had you face to face as I know you are not prepared to answer tough questions and should not confuse the issues with your commentary. We, the residents of OC cannot afford the debt that is going to swamp this city. I believe in transparency, I want to know exactly what my elected officials are up to. All we, the resident's asked for was a referendum, a measure of the voice of the resident's of the community which we did not get because the elect knew these plans would not fly. VOTE the corrupt out. EVERY last one of them even though it is already too late to stop the loss of revenues on the land swap unless we have a civic minded attorney in residence that is willing pro bono to assist in an injunction to stop this action. The city, your elect including Steve Scaffidi gave the residents false numbers at the February meeting. The funding source is unstable. We have a large number of empty homes as related to foreclosures OC is not moving in the right direction. VOTE THEM OUT as they told us to do if we didn't like it and stop the manipulation and closed session decision making that does not include the desires of residents as evidenced by the lack of support of the issue at hand.
Mark Schaaf March 14, 2012 at 12:11 PM
alright, well. I think this conversation has about run its course.

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