CIP resolution for Southport Park beach house fails
The resolution sponsored by Alderperson Steve Bostrom to amend the city of Kenosha’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for 2012 by creating a line item for the Southport Park beach house for $300,000 and decreasing the Outdoor Rec Plan and Implementation – Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP) by $300,000, for a net change of $0, failed the roll call vote on the Common Council floor tonight. The Parks Commission had previously voted 3 to 2 to amend the amount to $200,000 because there was not $300,000 left in the plan to move; there was only about $225,000 left. The Finance Committee also met on the resolution tonight, and the motion to approve it was not seconded. Therefore, that committee had no recommendation to the Common Council tonight. The vote on the council floor was 5 to 11, with Alderpersons Jan Michalski, G. John Ruffolo, Kevin Mathewson, Steve Bostrom, and David Bogdala voting for the resolution.
Bostrom thanked the mayor for placing $1 million in the CIP over the next four years for the beach house. He also thanked Alderperson Daniel Prozanski for suggesting the CIP amendment. Bostrom stated that he realizes that the $200,000 being moved from the the CIP was “a bit of a drop in the bucket. It will require more money. Once the study is done, I hope it gets the attention it deserves. There is $100,000 earmarked for next year. I hope that we do the work sooner rather than later. At the rate of the current decay, it may not be here.”
Prozanski said that he did suggest the CIP amendment as an effective way to obtain the funds, but that was prior to the $1 million that was placed in the 2013-2017 CIP. He did not mean for it to be done at the expense of other projects that the money was tabbed for. There are still projects that didn’t get completed in 2012 that need to get done, that are still worthwhile.
Alderperson Michael Orth said that he voted against it, and he explained why. When became chairman of the Parks Commission, the way the Parks Department was structured was changed. They consolidated Parks under the Public Works Department. Both administrations created a structure for planning for the long-term viability of parks, and that was the CORP Plan. “Prior to that,” he said, “they were just plugging holes in dikes. The Southport Beach House is the way it is because of that approach.”
He went on to further explain that the $200,000 that was proposed to be used for the Southport Beach House was being taken away from the following projects: planters in Bain Park, Anderson Bridge with a handicapped accessible fishing pier, tree identification placques in Lincoln Park ($1,000), two bridges over the river in Washington Bowl which are in disrepair ($77,000), promenade work at Harbor Park, and irrigation and lighting for the Veteran’s Memorial. “While the Southport Beach House is a noble cause, all of these other things will be given up. They won’t be spent between now and December 31st. There is no plan in place yet. It’s not prudent; it’s not wise. It goes in the face of planning. I suggest and urge your vote against it,” said Orth.
Alderperson Chris Schwartz stated that she did support the resolution but, because of the impact on the other parks which are also important, she no longer is supporting it.
Mathewson said that he is supporting the resolution and urged others to do the same. Ruffolo stated that the $200,000 was not to be used on other buildings. Those projects can be pushed to next year. Meanwhile, the building continues to deteriorate.
Alderperson Anthony Kennedy thanked the staff in helping Bostrom find the money to move over, and admired Bostrom’s tenacity. Kennedy talked about how money gets allocated for various projects, and then gets shifted to something else. “We set up plans, then the money gets shifted. Things don’t get done. This doesn’t instill faith and hope in the minds of our constituents. I would be proud to support unspent money that was not tied to specific projects. But, if I voted for this, it would take away the lighting at the Veteran’s Memorial. It’s ironic, but I’m not voting for it.”
Alderperson Keith Rosenberg stated that we need handicapped accessible parks in the city. “I’m not supporting the resolution. I don’t want to lose the pier for the disabled vets in my district.”
Alderperson Scott Gordon also said that he was not supporting the resolution, and he explained why. “We don’t have the results of the plan yet. Within 60 to 90 days, when the plan is done for the park, if definite needs are outlined, then come to me and ask me to move the money. Until then, we are sitting in a holding pattern, and I am voting no.”
Alderperson Eric Haugaard wanted to know where the sense of urgency was coming from. He said that he was led to believe that there is not a lot of critical danger right now. “Can the building withstand another winter, or is there some tuckpointing and flashing that needs to be done?” Mayor Keith Bosman said that the building is in check now. Events are planned at the beach house, and if repairs are needed, there is money in the CIP in 2013. “We’ll be able to remediate the while building, if needed.”
Bogdala urged administration to get these other projects done. He stated that there is about $6 million sitting around in projects which have not been completed, that have come in under budget, or that haven’t even been started yet. He said that there have been three studies already where evaluators have said that repairs are needed to the building. “Get them done. Stop delaying. Stop putting politics into the mix.”
Orth said that it’s October 15th, and that there is still 20% of the year left. “We are in the process of completing tasks. Go to the parks and see what’s been done so far this year. The Parks Department has been working harder than ever, and they are doing a fantastic job. They’ve kept the parks usable and open during the summer. Now, it’s their down time. Now, it’s time to do these other projects.” He said that “life in city hall is politics.” He gave the example of moving $70,000 from the park work in Forest Park so that water improvements could be done there first. It would then be added back in future years. Change requests are on the Parks Commission agenda all the time. “So, don’t raid the projects that are not yet done. We still have 20% of the year left.”
Bogdala stated that he hoped that the mayor, the finance director, the chairman of the Parks Commission, and the alderperson of the district could sit down within the next two weeks and come up with a way to finance this work. Bostrom said that that was going to be his suggestion. “This affects our city’s image,” he said. “I’ve had out-of-town developers looking at both the Southport Beach House and the Simmons Island Beach House, and they love it. They want to do business in this city. They haven’t gotten up-close looks, because they might think that we don’t keep our assets very well. But, I’m glad that the Parks Commission chairman is committed to a plan that brings changes to the city and its citizens.”
Again, the mayor reiterated that, within the last three months, $1 million has been placed in the CIP. “It will be more than that to see it done. There is $1 million over four years. Other things had to be moved. We will come up with a coherent plan over several years. The money will not be spent between now and the end of the year. It will start next year, once the plan is done. We need a plan in place first.”
Gordon made a motion to defer the vote for 45 days, until after the budget meetings were completed, but that motion didn’t meet with much support. Prozanski said that he’s committed, “once we get good numbers, to rehabilitate and repair from a priority list, to look for money. But, I don’t want to take away good projects for another worthy project. I want to wait for concrete numbers, then put the money forward.”
Orth encouraged a no vote on the deferral, as well as a note vote on the resolution.
Bostrom agreed that the deferral was not in order. “And, I don’t want to make it the Southport Beach House vs. vets or disabled. We do have concrete numbers on what it will cost to fix the building. What else are we waiting for? It shouldn’t stop us from finding money at every opportunity to ‘save’ this building. You could have some very serious problems on your hands. Go ahead and so some independent study of your own. If bricks are falling away from the walls, start today. Look for funds. It’s evident that we’re going to lose the CIP amendment. But, I want your help to find the money to address the issue. Please, I’m begging you. Start on it now,” he said.
Haugaard again expressed his curiousity. “Where are the numbers? I’ve received no details.” Others stated that they are on the website, and part of the back-up documentations. “If there was an urgency, then there should have been some ‘stop-the-bleeding-plans.’ I would have looked at it.”
The vote on the deferral was a voice vote, and it was voted down. The roll call vote to approve the resolution, as recommended by the Park Commission, failed by a vote of 5 to 11.