Common Council

Change in demerit points gets deferred

Licensing & Permit Committee PictureAt yesterday’s Licensing & Permit Committee meeting, Alderperson David Bogdala spoke on his proposed ordinance change regarding demerit points.  He wants to change the amount of demerit points assessed to license holders of Class B and Class C establishments, and bartenders.  His proposed changes included:

  1. Changing the amount of demerit points for second offense Driving Under the Influence (DUI) convictions from 40 to 80 points; and
  2. Changing the amount of demerit points for selling to underage persons from 20 points to 40 points.

Once an establishment has accumulated 100 points, they are called to appear in front of the Licensing & Permit Committee.  Bogdala said, “This is a serious issue.  We have alcohol issues in the city of Kenosha.  One strike and you’re out if it were up to me.”

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City Council approves application for Wisconsin Main Street Program

Downtown Near LakeAt Wednesday night’s Common Council meeting, the Council approved a resolution to support the city of Kenosha’s application to the State of Wisconsin Main Street Program, which is a state program that will provide help with ongoing efforts to improve the downtown area.  The resolution to submit the application was approved by a roll call vote of 13 to 0.  (Four alderpersons were not in attendance on Wednesday night:  Alderpersons Patrick Juliana, Tod Ohnstad, Rocco LaMacchia, and Jesse Downing.)

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Resolution approved regarding same-day voter registration

A resolution sponsored by Alderperson Curt Wilson and co-sponsored by Alderpersons Tod Ohnstad, Rocco LaMacchia, Daniel Prozanski, Keith Rosenberg, Scott Gordon, Jan Michalski, and Patrick Juliana was approved by a roll call vote of 11 to 2 on Wednesday night at the Common Council Meeting.  Those alderpersons voting against were Alderpersons Steve Bostrom and David Bogdala.  The resolution urged the governor to veto any legislation that would eliminate registration at the polls.

Bostrom wanted the resolution to be referred to the Legislative Commission.  He stated that he was not aware of any pending legislation to limit any registration at the polls.  He also said that the Council has a body that should meet regularly, and that this is one of the issues that should be reviewed by that committee.

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Licensing and permit decisions

Licensing & Permit Committee PictureOn Wednesday night, the Common Council met and ruled on several licensing and permit issues.  These are summarized below:

  • Seven new operator’s (bartender) licenses were approved, subject to various amounts of demerit points.
  • One new taxi driver’s license was approved, subject to 90 demerit points.  Two others were denied.

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Keys to the municipal building a big issue

Keyless SystemThe resolution by Alderperson Kevin Mathewson (8th district) to direct that all alderpersons be given a key to the municipal office building was a major topic of discussion at three meetings earlier tonight.  The item appeared on the Public Works Committee, Finance Committee, and Common Council meeting agendas.

At the Public Works Committee meeting, Alderperson Jan Michalski said that, as long as he’s been an alderperson, he has not had a key.  He said that he realizes it might be financially burdensome for some alderpersons to go to a coffee shop with their constituents, but there are other public places to meet, like the library.  Plus, he mentioned other issues regarding liability, logistics, etc.  He also said that the issue would be moot anyway since the mayor said that a keyless system was being looked into.

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Communication problem?

Do the alderpersons of the Common Council have a communication problem with the mayor’s office, or with the municipal building administration?  Some believe they do, and some don’t think so.

At Monday night’s Common Council meeting, during the Alderpersons’ Comments portion of the meeting, several of the alderpersons made comments about the front-page article that appeared in the Kenosha News that morning regarding communication issues.  Two alderpersons, David Bodgala and Kevin Mathewson, questioned the trip that happened months ago, the visit to Madison to see a Madison Mallards baseball game, hosted by the Northwoods League.

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TID approved for old KYF site

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Photo by mensatic via

At last night’s Finance and Common Council meetings, a resolution proposed by Mayor Keith Bosman to create tax incremental district (TID) #15 was approved.  This is the property that represents the old KYF Building in Library Park, in downtown Kenosha. The vote was unanimous at the Finance Committee meeting, 5 to 0 (Alderperson Tod Ohnstad was not present), and also at the Common Council meeting, 14 to 0 (Alderpersons Eric Haugaard, Jesse Downing and Ohnstad were not present).

At the Finance Committee, John Fox spoke against creation of the TID.  He said that he expressed his concerns at the last City Plan Commission meeting.  (To read about this meeting, click here:  TID Approved by the City Plan Commission.)  His objections were two-fold.  First, when the re-zoning was done on the property, he said that there was no mention on the TID being created.  Also, a question was raised at that meeting by two of the commissioners as to the property’s blight condition.  He said that two of the commissioners were not sure that the property was more than 50% blighted.  He also said that there was no formal city inspection done on the property, only one by the property owner.  Secondly, this is the first TID for 100% housing.  It would be setting a precedent for the future.  He stated that he hoped that the commission would not approve this.  He said that he talked to assistant city attorney Jon Richardson, and Richardson’s comment was that he hoped the inspection had been done.

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Resolution approved urging governor to OK Kenosha casino

Gov Walker casinoAt tonight’s Common Council meeting, an agenda item included a resolution sponsored by Alderperson Patrick Juliana and co-sponsored by Alderpersons Michael Orth, Jan Michalski, Curt Wilson, Tod Ohnstad, Scott Gordon, Eric Haugaard, Jesse Downing, and Rocco LaMacchia to urge the governor to approve the casino proposed for the city of Kenosha.  The resolution was approved by a vote of 12 to 2.

Alderpersons Kevin Mathewson and David Bogdala voted against the resolution.  Mathewson said that he didn’t feel that a “nasty letter should be sent to the governor.”  Bogdala said that he voted against it because his constituents are opposed to the casino at Dairyland.

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Shell Plaza loses beer license

Shell LogoAt Monday night’s Common Council meeting, it was voted to approve the findings of fact, conclusions of law, and recommendation of the Licensing & Permit Committee to revoke the beer license of Shell Food Plaza, located at 11748 – 75th Street.  This was a voice vote.  It was not an unanimous decision; there were a couple of no’s that rang out, which couldn’t be identified definitively.

Ray Misner, of the Licensing and Community Standards Consultants of Wisconsin, LLC, spoke on behalf of the licensee, although he stated that he was not his legal counsel.  He handed out a packet to the Council members and to Steve Cain, the legal counsel for the Common Council.  Misner stated that the old agent, Yolo Yolov, was no longer employed by the corporation.  “The successor agent is a temporary placeholder until approved for permanent placement.”  He made the case that the revocation was against the agent, the employee, and not the corporation.  The recommendation of the Licensing & Permit Committee is for revocation.  He said that the demerit points should not be applied to the corporation or to the new agent.  He stated that he was challenging the revocation.

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Quota system ends for retail liquor licenses

Gas Station Selling LiquorAt Monday night’s Common Council meeting, several changes were approved to Chapter 10 of the code of general ordinances for the city of Kenosha entitled, “Alcohol Beverages.”  These changes were sponsored by Alderperson Jesse Downing, chairman of the Licensing & Permit Committee, and co-sponsored by Alderpersons Patrick Juliana, Rocco LaMacchia, and Curt Wilson.  The changes included:

  • Eliminating the self-imposed quota, which was previously set at one license for every 5,000 residents, allowing for 20 retail liquor licenses in the city.  All of these licenses are in use at the present time.
  • A new, separate system where two license violations in one year will result in a 60-day suspension, and three violations in one year will result in license revocation.

The retail liquor licenses will still fall under the point-based demerit system, where 100 demerit points over two years will result in a review of the license in front of the Licensing & Permit Committee that could result in suspension or revocation.  Any applicant for a Class A license will still need to apply to the city, contact the alderperson of the district, and be approved by the Common Council.

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War zone flag dedicated

Flag 002_optAt Monday night’s Common Council meeting, Scott Martell dedicated a flag on behalf of his son, an Iraqi war veteran.  Flags were flown in his son’s division from the home towns of the men and women who were serving there.  All who were serving in that war zone signed the flags.  The flags were then returned to the municipalities from which they came.  Three were returned to this area, one in Kenosha County, one in Kenosha, and one in Pleasant Prairie.

(The photographer apologizes to anyone who may have been cut out of the picture.)

Common Council upholds suspension/revocation findings

At last night’s Common Council meeting, the decisions of the Licensing & Permit (L&P) Committee regarding the suspensions/revocations of the licenses of several establishments were upheld.

CVS Pharmacy

In the matter of the CVS Pharmacy, located at 3726 – 22nd Avenue, the findings of the L&P Committee were to suspend the beer/liquor license for 30 consecutive days and reinstate subject to 80 demerit points.  This was approved by the Council by a vote of 15 to 2 (Alderpersons Rocco LaMacchia and Tod Ohnstad were the two dissenting voters).

Larry Cohen, an attorney for CVS, and John Boyk, the Wisconsin and Illinois district manager for CVS, had objected to the recommendation of the L& P Committee.  Cohen said that the individuals responsible had been terminated the following day.  “We have a zero tolerance policy.  We are embarrassed that this occurred.  We’ve installed three various  machines.”  Boyk then explained that CVS has 7,600 stores across the U.S., and that 70% of them sell beer, spirits, alcohol, and tobacco.  “We are committed to upholding the laws of the municipalities we serve.”  He then explained the driver’s license reader equipment they installed, the compliance training they provide, and the fact that the cashier needs to also input the birth date into the register to sell alcohol.

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City to review key card system for muni building

A resolution sponsored by Alderperson Kevin Mathewson (8th District) to direct that all alderpersons be given a key to the Kenosha city’s municipal office building was deferred by the Common Council at their meeting tonight, and referred to the Finance and Public Works Committees for working out the details and looking at the cost.

Mayor Keith Bosman said that there are advantages to this issue, such as tracking the entrance and exit times of employees, who’s entering the building when, and when they are leaving.  There will only be certain hours that the keys will be able to be used.  “It makes sense,” he said.

Mathewson said that this was a housekeeping item.  There is an alderperson meeting room that he has made use of, and sometimes, he needs it after 4:30 pm during the week and on the weekends.  He said that he asked city staff if there was a policy and found out that there was not.  He asked the city attorney for a legal opinion, and he found that the “Common Council has management and control of city property.”  Racine provides keys to their alderpersons, and Appleton uses a key card system for their alderpersons.

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Bogdala’s motion again fails

Earlier tonight, the Common Council met at a special meeting to give their final approval on the 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and to adopt the 2013 city of Kenosha budget.  Alderperson David Bogdala again made a motion regarding the west side fire department station.

His motion was to remove $100,000 from the Redevelopment Authority (RA) property acquisition fund, taking it from $400,000 to $300,000, and to create a new line item for that amount for a study of Fire Department Stations # 2, # 6, and # 8.  Alderperson Daniel Prozanski asked the fire chief if Bogdala had ever approached him regarding doing a study on Fire Department Station # 8, and his reply was no.

Prozanski then questioned Fire Chief John Thomsen about an earlier study that was done five to six years ago.  He wanted to know if that study was still viable.  Thomsen stated that the Almont Study evaluated the location of all fire stations in Kenosha, and the result was that many would be moved, except for Fire Station # 4, which is located at 60th Street and 48th Avenue.  Thomsen said that the funds proposed by city administration for the 2008 CIP were removed and, subsequently, the project died.

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Public hearings on city’s CIP and budget

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Yesterday, public hearings were held on the city’s 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) and the 2013 city of Kenosha budget.  There were more than a few citizens who made comments on the documents.  Listed below is a summary of those comments:

Paul McDonough, owner of several properties in downtown Kenosha:  “I am representing 50-plus downtown merchants and businesses supporting the streetcar expansion.  It’s a catalyst and an economic tool.  There were 45,000 riders last year, and 300,000 museum customers.  Riders are potential customers, and we really want to capture people.  This economic loop will be more viable than the existing loop.  This is one of the top five initiatives beneficial to business downtown.”

Robert Thomas:  “I have the opposite point of view.  This is a trolley to nowhere.  This loop makes as much sense as the first one.  I’d like to know what the cost to the city per rider is.  The city will have to spend $2 million.  The $8.2 million that we’re getting from the federal government is not Obama’s money; it’s our money.  We’re footing the whole bill.  It’s not free, and it’s not going to help us.  I’ve been on the trolley once.  The only person I ever see on the trolley is the driver.  It will help very few.  I’m against it, and I hope to see you people against it, too.”

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Common Council votes to restore hourly bus service on Saturday

At the Kenosha Common Council Committee of the Whole meeting held earlier tonight, one of the motions that was approved was to include $25,873 in the Transit budget to provide hourly bus service for all of the Saturday routes.  This motion was made by Alderperson Tod Ohnstad.  The reason he gave was that it helps the elderly, the handicapped, and those less fortunate in the community.  “This is a ‘trial balloon,'” he said.  “It will again be reviewed to possibly continue funding in the future.”  At least three citizens had spoken during the public hearing in favor of this service restoration.

Alderperson David Bogdala asked Mayor Keith Bosman if he was in support of this ‘trial balloon,’ and the mayor replied that he had no position on it.  Alderperson Michael Orth noted that revenue miles were down from last year, but that ridership was up.  Demand was more now than it was a year ago.

The roll call vote was 16 to 1, with Bogdala being the sole dissenting voter.

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Common Council urges county to fund software upgrade

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At Monday night’s Common Council meeting, a resolution sponsored by Alderperson David Bogdala to urge the Kenosha County Board to commit funds for software upgrades for Joint Services to continue to provide access to law enforcement data bases was unanimously approved.  The county removed the funding from their budget.

The city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) calls for putting $1.3 million in funding toward upgrading the 26-year-old system over the next two years.  The funding split calls for $400,000 in 2013, and $900,000 in 2014.  The Finance Committee supported those funds last week, and the full City Council will consider the funding as part of the CIP next week.  To read more about this, click here:  “Finance Committee Approves CIP.”

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Finance Committee also approves 2013 executive budgets

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Tonight, the Finance Committee reconvened to finish up the review of the 2013 budgets.  The focus tonight was on the 2013 executive operating budgets.  This meeting lasted a little over three hours.  Alderperson Tod Ohnstad was not present at tonight’s meeting.  The budgets were approved by a vote of 4 to 1, with Alderperson David Bogdala being the sole dissenting voter.

Mayor Keith Bosman said that the budget of $71.9 million is one in which there are no reductions in service planned.  He mentioned the decreased shared revenue and increased health care costs, the proposed 2% employee raise, and the increased burden of health care on the city’s employees.  He thanked the employees for working with administration over the years.

The current budget increases the tax levy by 2.2%.  Frank Pacetti, city administrator explained the effect on the average homeowner.  Assessed values in the city have decreased 11%.  The average home value went from $147,400 last year to $126,700 this year, a 14% decrease.  Applying the mil rate against the assessed value yields 10.288 on a $147,400 home equals $1,516.  The projected mil rate of 11.874 on the $126,700 home equals $1,504, a decrease of $12.

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Aldermanic door gluing charge makes national headlines

An allegation by a Kenosha alderman that another alderman glued his van door lock is receiving regional and even national attention.

Here’s the story as it appeared on the MSNBC website.

Kenosha dream playground project receives approval

At the Common Council meeting this past Monday night, the Council unanimously approved to direct the parks division superintendent to provide plan options for a full-accessibility play area for children.  The Parks Commission had unanimously approved this item at an earlier meeting.

Tammy Conforti, the person spearheading the project, spoke during the Citizens’ Comments portion of the meeting.  She said that they have been able to make two partnerships thus far:  with the city of Kenosha, and with the Kenosha Achievement Center.

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Bartender’s license denied

At Monday’s Common Council, there was much discussion on the agenda item having to do with approving the application of Keith Boreman for a new operator’s (bartender) license, subject to 80 demerit points.  The Licensing & Permit Committee had already approved the license before Monday by a vote of 4 to 1 (Alderperson Anthony Kennedy had been the sole dissenting voter at that time).

This applicant was a convicted felon, having committed wreckless homicide back in 1993.  Alderperson Kevin Mathewson recommended denial due to public safety concerns.  The chief of police, John Morrissey, also recommended denial of the application.  Boreman has already been issued a bartender’s license by the town of Wheatland.

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Resolution to block water rate hike fails, yet WE Energies resolution is approved

At last night’s Common Council meeting, a resolution sponsored by Alderperson Kevin Mathewson urging the Kenosha Water Utility’s Board of Water Commissioners to refrain from a rate increase for 2013 failed.  The vote was 2 to 12.  The two voting for it were Mathewson and Alderperson David Bogdala.  Two alderpersons abstained from the vote; they were Alderpersons G. John Ruffolo and Steve Bostrom (both members of the Board of Water Commissioners).

Mathewson said that he met with Ed St. Peter, the general manager of Kenosha’s water utility, who told him that the reason for the increase was to expand and enhance the infrastructure, the underground pipes. Mathewson said that he “thought this was a good idea, just the wrong time.”  Mathewson said that, in his meeting with St. Peter, that he was led to believe that the water rate increase was not essential to provide the same service.

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CIP resolution for Southport Park beach house fails

Beach elevation (C. Cartwright photo, 2002)

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.

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Common Council approves beach house resolution

At Monday night’s Common Council meeting, the Council approved, by a vote of 13 to 1, the beach house resolution proposed by Alderperson Steve Bostrom requesting the allocation of funds for the purpose of saving and renovating the Southport Beach House.  Several changes were proposed, but the same resolution that was approved by the Parks Commission, was also approved on the Council floor.

Alderperson David Bogdala wanted to add back in a date that was removed having to do with the deadline for the request for proposals (RFP’s).  Alderperson Michael Orth, chairman of the Parks Commission, reiterated what he had said at the committee meeting, and that was that, “At this point in time, we are not sure what the plan will take.  It could be a phased-in approach, or one full project.”  He stated that that was the logic behind not adding a date.  Continue reading

Anthony Nudo says ordinance change is unconstitutional

Former Alderperson Anthony Nudo gave his opinion on the ordinance change regarding the setback of major streets and the definition of build-to line.  He said that, as the past president and president-elect of the realtor’s association, he reviews legislation and property rights.  His opinion was that this ordinance seeks to relieve pressures on property owners with stringent standards that are unconstitutional.  He believes the ordinance is, therefore, flawed.

He stated that he didn’t feel that this was the correct way to address the issues.  “This was written at the beginning of the 20th century, 100 years ago, and the exact intent was not known.  Reasons could be to widen the roads, increase the vision clearance, or keep pedestrian traffic away from auto traffic.  Nudo says that “the remedy this proposed ordinance is seeking is flawed and, therefore, unconstitutional.”

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Mayor presents 2013 budget and CIP

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At tonight’s Common Council meeting, Mayor Keith Bosman delivered the proposed 2013 operating budget and the 2013-2017 Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  Bosman said that both budgets would be distributed after the meeting to the council members.  Bosman made a few comments at the beginning of the meeting.

The operating budget for 2013 is $71.9 million.  Bosman said that, “in four years, fifty positions have been eliminated in city government.  With the economy down, our business has increased.  The demand for city services increases as Kenosha grows.  There is no reduction of services being planned in this budget, as far as police and fire are concerned.  There are no cuts in Transit or Parks.”

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0% increase in tax levy resolution major topic of discussion

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Alderperson Kevin Mathewson’s resolution to urge the mayor to propose a budget for the city that provides for a zero increase in the tax levy for 2013 was the major topic of discussion at tonight’s Common Council meeting.  Four citizens spoke in favor of the resolution during the Citizens’ Comments portion of the meeting, plus two public hearings were held at the time the resolution was being considered which had several citizens speaking up as well in favor of the resolution and pleading with the Council not to defer it.

Mathewson said that his campaign literature contained the promise that “he would hold the line on taxes.  This was a promise I made to my neighbors.”  He urged a yes vote on his resolution.

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Kenosha heritage ordinance gets referred back to committee

The proposed general ordinance having to do with Kenosha’s heritage was referred back to the Historical Preservation Committee for more work at last night’s Common Council meeting.  It was up for its second reading.  Alderperson Jan Michalski is the sponsor of this ordinance.  He stated at the meeting that he was given the task by the committee to draft this ordinance.

Michalski said that the purpose of this ordinance is to preserve and protect certain historical artifacts, such as the Statue of Liberty in Civic Square (pictured above), the murals in Reuther’s Auditorium and in the County Court House, the Lincoln Statue in Library Park, and the Civil War Cannon in Eichelmann Park.

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Again, Southport beach house resolution gets sent back to committee

A Street elevation (C. Cartwright photo, 2002)

At tonight’s Common Council meeting, the resolution regarding the Southport Beach House was referred back to the Parks Commission again.  Immediately after the Council returned from a six-minute recess, Alderperson Steve Bostrom distributed copies of the latest revision of the resolution calling for citizen involvement and requesting the mayor to put money in the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  Co-sponsors to the resolution were Alderpersons David Bogdala, G. John Ruffolo, Kevin Mathewson, and Anthony Kennedy.  Kennedy was commended for the changes he made to the original document.  Bostrom had hoped to vote on the resolution tonight.  “The Parks Commission has had plenty of opportunities to make their comments known,” said Bostrom.  “The maintenance on that building has been deferred far too long.”  No specific dollar amount or time line was included in the resolution.

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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.

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