The Lakota Group makes presentation to Common Council

On Monday night, The Lakota Group, the Chicago-based consultant hired to do the downtown study, gave an executive summary presentation of their downtown strategic development plan to the Common Council. Todd Battle, president of the Kenosha Area Business Alliance (KABA) opened the presentation with a few comments.  “Six months ago, we started this process.  It’s been an open, engaging process.  We now have a near final draft which will be presented tonight.  The Lakota Group will talk about the core elements of the plan, and their core concepts, and the plan for continued implementation.

“Now, we wanted to share some of our core elements and the kind of key developments that we think will drive the plan.  Having this study is one thing, but implementing it is another,” said Battle.  He also said that the process has engaged the community in a series of three interactive workshops.

The two representatives from The Lakota Group, Scott Freres, president, and Daniel Grove, associate principal, then alternated with the presentation.  The three main components are:

  1. Development Framework
  2. Public Investment Guide
  3. Private Investment Guide

Grove said that the key take-aways are:

  • Core Investment Zones:  Focusing the initial development and rehabilitation efforts into the central areas of downtown Kenosha.
  • Zoning:  The city should update the zoning for the private investment field, the rules and regulations to help foster development in the downtown area.
  • Vacant Properties:  The city should establish a process for addressing vacant properties, and assessing their practical and historical values.
  • “The Heart of the City:”  A multi-use, central, outdoor park/public space needs to be identified as the center of downtown.
  • Parking and Transportation:  Streets will need updating, and transportation methods need to be more efficient.
  • Streetcar Expansion:  Adding a north/south route through downtown to reach businesses and the Kenosha Medical Center should be acted upon.  This is a critical component to further the momentum of the downtown area.
  • Downtown Management:  Having a full-time position to address downtown development.
  • Branding and Marketing:  Present a cohesive image of the area to market.
  • Catalytic Projects:  Initiate developments that can spur further development.
  • Indoor Market:  Create an indoor site to accommodate and allow for expansion of the Kenosha Harbor Market.
  • Funding:  Seek financial help from a variety of entities.
  • Implementation:  Establish public/private partnerships.

In a couple of weeks, the city will receive the final draft.  This is a big document, 170 pages long.

Alderperson David Bogdala wanted to know what would be included in the final draft.  “Will priorities and a timeline for execution be included?”  The reply was yes.  The implementation plan would be broken up into three time periods:  from 0 to 2 years, from 3 to 5 years (growth), and a management phase, from five years plus.  “It is a living document.  The plan is to reassess the plan from time to time.”

Alderperson Daniel Prozanski made the observation that the museums were not mentioned.  The Lakota Group admitted that the museums are a huge draw, bringing in 250,000 to 300,000 people a year.  But, the museums are not in the map area.  “Even though they are not mentioned tonight, we plan on tying in the museums into the entire project.  It’s like the lakefront.  It’s a huge amenity.  It adds to the energy of the 6th Avenue Corridor.  There is nothing to change on the museums.  They are a valuable asset.”

Alderperson Michael Orth wanted to know if the north/south loop of the streetcar expansion was limited by the scope of the study area.  He said that he would like to see it go further north, like to Carthage, and to other locations.  He wanted to make sure that it wasn’t being bounded within the study area vs. what suits the community as a whole.  The reply was that “there are no set boundaries, it’s not being limited.  It’s not bounded by downtown.  But, we need to start at the core.  Improved linkages need to be made via streetcar or the bus system.”

Alderperson Scott Gordon wanted to know what the number one highest priority was.  The reply was that “there are two:  the downtown management entity, and the zoning to set the table for the outside world.  One person needs to say it all, put forth a clear and concise direction.”

Bogdala wanted to know if the distance of the streetcar loop was based on grant dollars allocated, and the reply was no.  The plan is to “connect along 6th Avenue, add the hospital, north to possibly 50th Street, Simmons Island, and return along 8th Avenue.  That’s a logical loop to return on.”

Alderperson Steve Bostrom questioned the “go-to person.”  He wanted to know if a part of their analysis included the current permit process, the development process, and the answer was no.  “We’ve gathered information from anecdotal comments.  There is a desire for a shepherd, a point person.”

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In other business conducted at the meeting:

  • Sixteen operator’s (bartender’s) licenses were approved, one was denied, and one was referred back to the Licensing/Permit Committee.  Also, one transfer of agent status of beer and/or liquor license, two special Class “B” beer and/or special “Class B” wine licenses, and two taxi driver licenses were approved.
  • The application of Griffin Lanes, LLC, Karen Griffin, agent, for a Class “B” beer/”Class B” liquor license located at Sheridan Lanes, with acceptance of a conditional surrender of a similar license at the same location, was approved.
  • The first reading of the zoning ordinance proposed by the mayor for the city of Kenosha/village of Bristol, was approved.
  • The Council unanimously approved the four-way stop at the intersection of 31st Street and 14th Avenue.
  • The second reading of the zoning ordinance change proposed by Alderperson Jesse Downing regarding medical transportation offices was approved by a vote of 14 to 2 (Alderpersons Bostrom and Prozanski voted against).
  • The second reading of the zoning ordinance change again proposed by Downing allowing golf and/or batting range uses as a conditional use in manufacturing districts was approved unanimously.
  • Proposed resolutions to impose special charges upon various parcels of property located in the city were approved unanimously.  These had to do with property maintenance re-inspection fees ($3,982), boarding and securing ($2,547.01), grass and weed cutting ($17,634.33), trash and debris removal ($300), and graffiti removal ($160).
  • The request from Bridget Bielecki, Kmart Express, LLC, for a resolution to rescind an administrative fee for a special assessment for a boarding and securing at 4122 – 52nd Street was denied unanimously.
  • The resolution by the Finance Commmittee to amend the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2012 by increasing Anderson Pool by $160,500 and decreasing park renovations by $30,000, decreasing Forest Park outdoor recreational plan implementation by $66,500, and creating outside funding of $64,000 from Anderson cell tower collections and Anderson Park impact fees for a net change of $0, was deferred for two weeks and sent back to the Public Works Committee for action, since they did not meet earlier in the evening due to a quorum issue.  (Read the separate article on this issue by clicking here:  Finance Committee Votes to Increase Funds for Anderson Pool Work.)
  • The resolution by the Public Safety & Welfare Committee to remove the existing two-hour parking restriction on the east side of 35th Avenue north of 60th Street and have the existing “No Parking Here to Corner” sign on the east side of 35th Avenue moved from 50 feet to 30 feet north of 60th Street was deferred back to committee.  Alderperson Scott Gordon, alderman for the district, stated that he wants the signs all the way down the street.
  • The resolution by the Public Works Committee for intent to assess for Project 77-1104, Sump Pump Drain Connections into Storm Sewers (82nd Sreet – 62 feet to 805 feet west of 17th Avenue, 17th Avenue – 81st Street to 83rd Street) wad deferred.  The Public Works and Storm Water Utility Committees did not meet earlier that night.
  • The following appointments/reappointments by the mayor were acted upon:  The appointment of Kathleen Jalensky to the Museum Board for a term to expire May 1, 2015, was pulled from the agenda.  The reappointments of Paula Touhey, Frank Pacetti, and Paul Hegland to the Kenosha Area Tourism Corporation for terms to expire May 1, 2015, were approved unanimously.
  • The two public construction and improvement contracts on the agenda were deferred and sent back to the Public Works Committee due to their not having met earlier that night.  They were:  the contract for Project 12-1019, Joint, Crack Cleaning and Sealing (citywide locations) to Behm Maintenance Pavement Maintenance (Crystal Lake, Illinois), in the amount of $250,000, and the contract for Project 12-1414, Anderson Pool Splashpad Construction to Scherrer Construction Co. (Burlington, Wisconsin), in the amount of $300,000.
  • Disbursement Record #14 in the amount of $22,601,240.95 was approved unanimously.
  • The request from Brad Kellor, Pop’s Place, to rescind penalty fees in the amount of $90 for an illegal sign installation at 3214 – 60th Street, was also approved by a vote of 15 to 1 (Downing was the sole dissenter).
  • The two recommendations from the Committee on Public Works were both deferred and sent back to the Committee due to their not having met earlier in the evening.  They were the agreement by and between the city and Veolia ES Solid Waste Midwest, LLC, for recycling processing and marketing services for recyclable materials, and the final acceptance of Project 11-1208, Sidewalk & Curb/Gutter Program (citywide locations) completed by A.W. Oakes & Son (Racine, Wisconsin), in the amount of $635,012.58.
  • The remaining two agenda items were discussions on the status of litigation and proposed settlements.  The committee went into closed session on these two items.  The first had to do with the settlement between Kenosha County and the city, and it was approved by a vote of 13 to 2.  Bogdala voted against it, “not as a reflection of the settlement,” he said, “but that it was not noticed properly.  The city attorney gave his opinion; I happen to disagree with his opinion.”   Downing was the other dissenting voter.  The health services funding dispute ended with a $380,524 cash settlement.  The agreed-upon payment arrangement is that the city will pay $50,000 per year for the next three years, and the county will cancel the payment of $230,524 owed to the city for health department surpluses in 2010 and 2011.  The second agenda item regarding the status of litigation regarding Henley, et. al., vs. the Kenosha Housing Authority, had been pulled from the agenda.

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