Council Delays Sale of 8th and Hemlock Property, Approves Challenge Grant for New Pool

Recap of Oct. 9 Common Council Meeting

The Common Council continued its discussion of the sale of the property at at 8th Street and Hemlock Ave.

There was a second reading of an ordinance amendment to adopt a rezoning request by the School District of Marshfield to create a Campus Master Plan for the High School, Madison Elementary School and surrounding district-owned properties. Alderman Jason Zaleski moved to table the consideration of the second reading.

“I believe that with the concerns these folks have here regarding a property that the Unified School District in Marshfield may have interest in, we could talk to the Unified School District of Marshfield about this issue along with others and that would, by tabling this, give us some time to approach the School District and perhaps talk,” said Zaleski.

[RELATED: Citizens Express Frustration with Property Sale on 8th Street.]

“My understanding is this is strictly a rezoning. It has nothing to do with a master plan, it has nothing to do with any athletic facility building, has nothing to do with any parking concerns. It is strictly changing zoning,” said Alderman Tom Witzel. “It is also my understanding that there will be a master plan for this campus and a separate master plan coming for the middle school, and the work that’s being planned for the athletic facility there as well. I guess I don’t really see a reason to table this. Before we approve of a master plan, that’s when we can bring people to the table and discuss those concerns.”

“I agree with Mr. Witzel to a point, but this is leverage,” said Alderman Tom Buttke.

Buttke asked Director of Development Services Josh Miller about the process and leverage on the Campus Master Plan. “If we went through with the rezoning and then we got to approve the campus plan, do we have leverage?” he said.

“The council has the ultimate authority to approve this campus plan, so if there are elements in there that you disagree with or don’t want to see, you certainly have the right to request an amendment, request a change, or to deny it until they fix it,” responded Miller. “This zoning allows them to bring a campus plan forward. They are working on it and we anticipate one coming forward either by November or December of this year.

“Time is important, though, because they are interested in developing their campus, their Sports Complex,” Miller added. “I don’t know that holding up a rezoning is leverage any more than your opportunity to review the campus master plan.”

The motion to table failed 6-4 with Aldermen Feirer, Poeschel, Jockheck, Earll, MacSwain, and Witzel voting no. Aldermen Zaleski, Spiros, Buttke, and Hendler voted yes.

The second reading of the zoning passed 6-4 with Aldermen Feirer, Poeschel, Jockhekc, Earll, MacSwain and Witzel voting yes, and Aldermen Zaleski, Spiros, Buttke and Hendler voting no.

Later in the meeting, the council again addressed the issues surrounding the sale of the property at 8th and Hemlock, this time directly as they considered the single development proposal from Habitat for Humanity.

There was a motion by Alderman Witzel to table discussion of the sale of the property for a minimum of one year to do a study.

“Based on conversations and discussion, I would move to table this for a minimum of one year so that we can see what middle school plans are, so we can see what traffic looks like and what happens after a complex is built at the high school,” said Witzel.

“This has been tabled for two years. The school is tearing down half of Beell Stadium,” said Alderman Steve MacSwain. “They do not expect there to be much in the way of parking. They were offered a chance to take this as parking when they had that high volume. They declined.”

“It’s more than the disposition of the property; there are major safety issues over there,” said Mayor Bob McManus. “I appreciate what you’re saying about what the school said, but at the same time they’re saying that they are also developing that area. There’s going to be money into that and the intention then, if you’re going to develop something, is to bring more people. And we don’t know where they’re going to park, and we have no idea clearly on the safety. We’re not there every night. The people that live there are.”

“Yes, they are tearing down half of the bleachers, but I believe they are also putting in a second soccer field and improving a track,” said Witzel. “So though you may not see as many people in one stadium, you very likely will see a fairly sizable crowd at that complex, especially if there are soccer games going on concurrently.

“I think at this point, yes, the school district perhaps turned it down, but they will also be coming forward with a master plan, and in that master plan you can bet this body is going to require parking. So they may need to revisit their turning down of a chunk of land to be able to put in parking. Again, I don’t want to be pushing this, especially with the fact that it is now fall and nobody’s going to build now anyway.”

After further discussion, the council voted 8-2 to table consideration of the sale for one year, with Aldermen MacSwain and Buttke voting no.

Also during the Common Council meeting, President of the Police and Fire Commission Mike Meyers asked the council to delay consideration of hiring three new paramedic/firefighters while the commission and Marshfield Fire and Rescue Department do more research. The council agreed to delay and the Police and Fire Commission will present updates to the council when their research is completed, according to Meyers.

Alderman Chris Jockheck removed a consent agenda item awarding snowplowing services for city-owned sidewalks and parking lots.

“I would like to have the council table the award of that bid,” said Jockheck. “It’s a little hard to discuss this because we are going to be talking about the company that’s involved in this in a closed session item, so we really can’t go into detail on that, but I would like to see us think twice about awarding that bid.”

The motion to table passed 5-4 with Alderman Zaleski abstaining.

The council also approved a challenge grant for fundraising for a replacement to Hefko Pool. The challenge grant will see the City match dollar for dollar up to $3 million in donations made by the public. The council had already allocated $3 million for the pool in 2019 during the CIP process this past February and March. Those allocated funds will be used for the matching grants. The motion passed 8-2 with Aldermen Earll and MacSwain voting no.

[RELATED: City Aldermen Tour Pool Facilities]

The council also voted to move the next Common Council meeting to Monday for members that wished to attend the League of Wisconsin Municipalities Convention that starts the following day; the council adopted the change.

The next Common Council meeting will be on Monday, October 22 with the first budget hearing at 5:30 PM and the regular council meeting starting at 7:00 PM.