Public Parks

Kennedy Park picked for handicapped accessible playground

DREAM PLAYGROUNDAt tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, Jeff Warnock, parks superintendent, stated that his recommendation for the location of Kenosha’s handicapped accessible playground is Kennedy Park.  Warnock said that he has worked with Tammy Conforti, the spearhead of the project, and they reveiwed three locations.  He and Shelly Billingsley, director of engineering, and Conforti took a ride to Port Washington to view the model for Kenosha’s playground in person.  That site is in a nice setting, on a bluff.  They wanted to try to duplicate it as much as possible and pick a lakefront location, one that would fit the footings of the playground.

South of the dead end of Washington Road was chosen so as not to block the sight of the lake, rather than the north side.  Homes are at street level there.    Other locations reviewed were Tot Park and Simmon’s Island.  “Of course,” said Warnock, the Park Commissioners would choose where it goes.  But, we felt that it was a centralized location, close to the museums, Scoops, Trolley Dogs, within walking distance,” said Warnock.

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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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Simmons Field lease is approved

Northwoods_League_LogoThe topic of the Simmons Athletic Field lease between the city, the Board of Park Commissioners, and Baseball Like It Oughta Be, LLC, and the Northwoods League, Inc., was on the agendas of both the Finance Committee and the Common Council meetings tonight.  Vern Stenman and Conor Caloia were the two representatives from the Northwoods League present at both meetings to answer questions.

Alderperson David Bogdala said that he was in attendance at the public meeting held last Tuesday.  To read the article on that meeting, click here:  “Simmons Field Meeting.”  Bogdala made several amendments to the lease, including inserting a security deposit performance bond, a renaming clause, language regarding the sale of alcohol and wine beverages, fireworks displays, and handicapped access.   He said, “If these are not detailed, written in the contract, we’ll have problems down the road.”  Bogdala’s motion to amend the lease at the Finance Committee failed for lack of a second.

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Simmons Field meeting

There were about sixty people in attendance tonight at the Simmons Field public information meeting held at the Southwest Library.  Here is a rendering of the ball field which was shown at the meeting:

Mayor Keith Bosman, as well as other city representatives, public works director Mike Lemens, community development and inspections director Jeff LaBahn, and parks superintendent Jeff Warnock, were in attendance.  Alderpersons who were present were Steve Bostrom, Curt Wilson, Chris Schwartz, Jan Michalski, Kevin Mathewson, Keith Rosenberg, David Bogdala, and G. John Ruffolo.  Vern Stenman and Conor Caloia were the two representatives from the Northwoods League.

Bosman made a few introductory remarks.  The Northwoods League’s main franchise is in Madison.  They are looking to Kenosha because Kenosha is the fourth largest city in Wisconsin.  The league started out with 5 teams; now, they are up to 16 teams in four states.  They will run 35 games from June to mid-August.  The team in Wausau draws 1,200 to 1,700 people a game; Madison draws 6,000 people a game.  If this gets approved, construction would start in the spring of 2013, baseball games would continue in the summer, and in the fall, the remainder of the work would be completed to have the opening pitch thrown out on June 1, 2014.  Bosman brought with him a copy of the 30-page lease, which is ready to be voted on by the Common Council on Monday night.

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Northwoods League lease approved by Parks Commission

One of the items on the Board of Park Commissioners agenda this evening was the approval of the lease between the city, the Board of Park Commissioners, and Baseball Like It Oughta Be, LLC, and Northwoods League, Inc., for Simmons Athletic Field.  Mayor Keith Bosman spoke on the issue.  He said that they have been working on the lease since May, and on the issue as a whole since October, 2011.

Vern Stenman, president of the Madison Mallards, was also in attendance at the meeting and spoke.  John Richardson, assistant city attorney, is the attorney who has been working on the lease agreement, which is providing private funds for a park that sadly needs rejuvenation.  Capital improvements in the amount of $500,000 are being made by the team, and greater than $300,000 in lease payments will be made to the city.  The team will play 35+ dates from April through September, and they will maintain the field for the high school teams.

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Simmons Field meeting

A public meeting will be held on Tuesday, December 11th, from 7 pm to 8:30 pm at the Southwest Library, 7979 – 38th Avenue, to discuss the proposed renovations of Simmons Field.  The proposal calls for a Northwoods Baseball League team to begin playing in Kenosha in 2014.

City officials and officials from the Northwoods League will be in attendance at the meeting.  Construction plans, available parking, and game times for the team will be discussed.

To read previous articles on this topic, click here:  Mayor Planning Madison Statium Visit; and Northwoods League Proposes to Renovate Simmons Field.

Final public meeting on Southport Park

Tonight, about 40 people attended the final public information meeting on the Southport Park plan prepared by the SAA Design Group and Engberg Anderson.  The meeting was held at the Southwest Library, in Kenosha.  Three alderpersons were present at the meeting:  Alderpersons Chris Schwartz (2nd district), Kevin Mathewson (8th district), and Steve Bostrom (12th district). Members of the city staff were also present including Mike Lemens, the city’s public works director, Shelly Billingsley, the city’s engineering director, and Jeff Warnock, the parks superintendent, as well as other city department representatives.

The concept plan is shown above, and is discussed in more detail below:

1) Arrival Designation – preserve geometry of the parking lot, painted parking stalls, replace light fixtures.

2) Drop-Off Area – one formal access to the building, remove steps.

3) Parking Reconfiguration – narrower, trail access to south dunes.

4) Lakefront Terrace – outdoor gathering space, historical design.

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Park Commission views Southport Park concept plan

On Monday night, representatives from the Madison-based SAA Design Group and Engberg Anderson presented the proposed concept plan to the Board of Park Commissioners.  The two public information meetings were held, one on September 26th, and the other on October 3rd.  Click here to read the articles from those meetings:  Citizens Speak Out About Southport Park; and Second Southport Park Meeting Held Tonight.

The public also saw this concept plan at a meeting that was held at the Oribiletti Center on November 1st.  To read the article on this meeting, click here:  Southport Park Meeting Tonight At Oribiletti Center.

There were three concept plans reviewed, Concept Plan A, B and C.  This proposal takes the best ideas from all three, and it calls for:

  • Adding trees to replace those lost in the 2011 storm;

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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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Strawberry Creek Park neighborhood meeting

Earlier tonight, nine people met at the Nash Elementary School, 6801 – 99th Avenue, to discuss the issues related to Strawberry Creek Park.  Alderperson David Bogdala, former alderperson of the district, and Alderperson Jesse Downing, current alderperson of the district hosted the meeting.  One other alderperson was present to show his support, Alderperson Steve Bostrom.  Also in attendance was County Board Supervisor Boyd Frederick of the 14th district.  Bogdala stated that the mayor and members of the Parks Commission were invited, but they were not in attendance.

Bogdala gave some history behind the origin of the separate fund for the creation of the park.  When the subdivision was created, the developer and other local businesses donated funds for the park.  Two grants have been applied for and awarded.  Last year, some preliminary work started on the park.  Up until this year, the park was included in the city’s 5-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP).  When Bogdala saw that the park was excluded, he questioned the Parks Commission and the mayor at the Parks Commission meeting on October 29th.  To read the article on this meeting, click here:  “Strawberry Creek Park Not in CIP.”

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Finance Committee also approves 2013 executive budgets

Photo by mensatic via

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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Finance committee approves CIP

Photo by mensatic via

At the Finance Committee meeting on Monday night, which lasted almost five hours, the city’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) was unanimously approved, with a few amendments.  At the beginning of the meeting, Chairman Daniel Prozanski stated that the review was going to be handled differently than it has in the past.  They were not going to go through the 302-page document page by page.  Committee members could instead make their amendments in an attempt to expedite the meeting.

Prozanski made motions for the following amendments:

  • Strawberry Creek Park – Add $402,220 to the 2013 CIP by adding $201,110 in outside funding from grants and $201,110 in park impact fees, for a net of zero.  Mayor Keith Bosman said that as soon as the drainage and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) issues were taken care of, work would commence in 2013.
  • Southport Park – Add $181,000 to the contingency line and add $181,000 in outside funding from grants and lakefront park impact fees, for a net of zero.  This move makes $281,000 available for the Southport Park in 2013.  Alderperson Rocco LaMacchia wanted to know if this move would impact other parks, and the reply was no.

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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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New communication tower approved

At last night’s Common Council meeting, the conditional use permit for a new public safety communication tower to be located at 6210 – 60th Street (Kenosha County/Nash Park), was approved by a roll call vote of 14 to 2 (Alderpersons Jesse Downing and David Bogdala voted against).

William Anderson spoke during the citizens’ comments portion of the meeting and during the public hearing for this item.  He said that he is not against the antenna, only the driveway.  He suggested a new location, but it’s already been installed.  He wanted to know how the work could already have started when it wasn’t ok’d yet by the Common Council.  “I thought people were supposed to be heard,” he said.  “With moving the tower closer to the airport, making it taller, creating longer runways, more planes, more traffic.  All of these things make it not safe.  The public is not involved.  It’s disappointing,” said Anderson.  “Rules and regulations are made to be followed.  It doesn’t seem that they were followed here.”

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Southport Park meeting tonight at Oribiletti Center

The report on the two public input meetings that took place on September 26th and October 3rd was presented tonight by the SAA Design Group, Inc., at the Oribiletti Center in Lincoln Park.  About 30 people were in attendance.  Mike Lemens, the city’s director of public works, Jeff Warnock, park superintendent, and Shelly Billingsley, director of engineering, were present, as well as several alderpersons from various districts.  They were Jan Michalski, Kevin Mathewson, David Bogdala, Chris Schwartz, and G. John Ruffolo.  Lemens said that they were going to try this building because of the acoustics problems at the Southport Beach House.  Once the heaters went on, people had a hard time hearing each other.

Blake Theisen, one of SAA Design Group associates/landscape architects/park planners, opened the meeting.  He said that none of the concepts are etched in stone.  Instead, they are flexible and features can be mixed and matched.  Pieces of Concept A can be mixed with pieces of Concept B and C to build an acceptable plan.

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Park meeting report

At yesterday’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, the following items were acted upon:

  • The conditional use permit for a new public safety communication tower to be located at 6210 – 60th Street, in Nash Park, was approved unanimously. This is for a 313-foot tall tower with a 3-foot lightning rod on top. Ray Arbet, public works director for Kenosha County, said that he is “being cautiously optimistic that the tower can be started before the snow flies.” William Anderson, a resident, voiced his concerns about the traffic. He said that he was not objecting to the tower, just the location of the tower in the park. Alderperson Anthony Kennedy asked that staff review Anderson’s concerns about the driveway.

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Strawberry Creek Park not in CIP

At tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, reviewing the Park Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), Alderperson Kevin Mathewson asked a question about Strawberry Creek Park.  Apparently, the line item for that park is now $0.  Mathewson wanted to know why.  Alderperson David Bogdala also spoke on this issue.  He said that it was included in the 2012 – 2016 CIP, the line item for 2013 being $332,817.  Bogdala wanted an answer from administration.  He was hoping it was a mistake.

Mayor Keith Bosman said that, due to the wetland issues, extra funds were designated for the Southport Beach House, and certain other projects had to be moved down the road, and others had to be taken out altogether.  Bogdala said that he anticipated that response from the mayor.

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Southport Park meeting next week

The city of Kenosha Department of Public Works Park Division will host a public information meeting from 6 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, November 1st, as part of the process to develop a master plan for Southport Park, including the Southport Beach House.

The meeting will take place at the Oribiletti Center, 6900 – 18th Avenue.  The results from the first round of meetings, held in late September and early October, will be shared.  Concept plans have been developed for public input.

The concept plans will be placed on the city’s website following this meeting at

If you are unable to attend, but would like to submit your input, please contact Shelly Billingsley, P.E., City Engineer, for the city of Kenosha, Department of Public Works, at:  (262) 653-4149, or e-mail her at:

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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Second Southport Park meeting held tonight

The SAA Design Group and Engberg Anderson hosted the second meeting for the Southport Park tonight at the northside library.  About 15 citizens were in attendance, six of whom were present at the meeting last week.  Alderpersons present at the meeting were G. John Ruffolo, David Bogdala, Kevin Mathewson, and Chris Schwartz.  The questions asked/format of the meeting was exactly the same as the first meeting.  To read the article on the first meeting, click here:  Citizens Speak Out About Southport Park.

Mike Lemens, the city’s public works director, answered the question on the minds of many people:  Why was this location for the second meeting chosen?  The answer is two-fold:  1) To give a different perspective; and 2) When the city went through the Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan (CORP) and master plan process last fall, the attendance was the best on the north side.  Additional factors were the expanded community room at the library, its acoustics, and lighting.

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Citizens speak out about Southport Park

The SAA Design Group and Engberg Anderson hosted the first of two public information meetings earlier tonight at the Southport Beach House.  About sixty people were in attendance to give their input on Southport Park, including city staff, several alderpersons, and the former mayor, John Antaramian.  The SAA Design Group is a landscape architectural firm based in Madison.  They have been commissioned to conduct a study on the park and develop a master plan for the park.  According to Mike Lemens, the city of Kenosha’s director of public works, “this is the first step in the process in order to be able to apply for grants.”

Blake Theisen, one of SAA Design Group associates/landscape architects/park planners, opened the meeting and made the introductions.  “We are here with open minds, no pre-conceived notions.  We’re here to listen.  This is the first in a series of two meetings.  The same type of meeting will be conducted next Wednesday night, at the Northside Library.  It will be interesting to see whether we get the same kind of responses from that group as we get here tonight.  We have been conducting stakeholder interviews with alderpersons and other user groups.  We have to remember, though, that we are looking beyond the walls of this building, to the Southport Beach Park.  I’m already receiving e-mails with a lot of positive energy.  When these two meetings are completed, we will return the early part of November with a site analysis.”

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Resolution passes committee with changes

At tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, the resolution proposed by Alderperson Steve Bostrom regarding the allocation of funds for the purpose of saving and renovating the Southport Beach House was approved unanimously with several amendments.  The resolution did not appear on the last meeting’s agenda.

Chairman Michael Orth said that he was surprised that it was on tonight’s agenda, because it was a different version than the one provided by the city attorney.  Nevertheless, the commissioners worked through the resolution, made changes to it, and unanimously approved it for forwarding on to the next Common Council meeting, which will be next Monday, October 1st.  Alderperson Chris Schwartz was not present at the meeting.

Alderperson Anthony Kennedy reiterated what he said on the Common Council floor at the last meeting.  “I wanted to stop the issue of who supports it and who doesn’t support it, and start talking about how we can work together to get this done.”

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Southport park public information meetings

The City of Kenosha Department of Public Works Park Division will host public information meetings on Wednesday, September 26th, and Wednesday, October 3rd, as part of the process to develop a master plan for Southport Park, including the Southport Beach House.  The first round of meetings will take place at the following locations and times:

  • Wednesday, September 26th (Public Meeting #1A), to be held at the Southport Beachhouse, located at 7825 Third Avenue, from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm; and
  • Wednesday, October 3rd (Public Meeting #1B), to be held at the Northside Library, 1500 – 27th Avenue, also from 6:00 pm to 7:00 pm.

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Playground update

At last night’s Board of Park Commissioners’ meeting, Jeff Warnock, parks superintendent, gave an update on the handicapped accessible playground project.  He stated that he and Tammy Conforti drove around and surveyed the city’s various parks, and have narrowed it down to a few places.  The best location, they both feel, is Tot Park, which was donated by the Rotary Club, down by Kenosha’s lakefront.

Warnock said that “it is in a great location.  We can modify the paths.  Almost everything is set up that way.  It leads to Beaver Pond and the splashpad.  Walkways are already in place.  It all looks like it’s a go,” he said.

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Southport Park resolution not on Parks agenda

The Southport Park resolution, which was expected to be on tonight’s Parks Commission agenda, did not appear.  George Clark questioned Chairman Michael Orth on it.  Orth’s response was that, as soon as he got a copy from Legal, it would be placed on the agenda, possibly at the next meeting.

After the meeting ended, Alderperson Anthony Kennedy gave Clark a copy of the latest resolution that was distributed at last Wednesday’s Common Council meeting.  Clark asked why Kennedy had a copy and Orth didn’t.  Kennedy said that this copy had his added amendments and changes.  Orth said that it was for the Parks Commission to consider first.  Kennedy said that he happened to disagree, but that “we need to work with it where it’s at.”

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Playdate in Port Washington

Here is a picture from the Kenosha Dream Playground Project play date, which took place in Port Washington yesterday.  Alderperson Scott Gordon (11th district) said, “Today I visited Possibility Playground in Port Washington.  I would like to thank Tammy Conforti for giving my family and I a very insightful detailed tour of the park.  I am now even more committed to see a playground like this here in Kenosha.”

Conforti is the spearhead behind the project for Kenosha.  She is pictured at the far right of the photo above.  Her comments were:  “We had a great day! The weather was warm, but not too bad. A special thank you goes out to everyone who took time out of their busy lives and spent the day with us. The kids all had a blast. Not very many people came, which is sad. I guess setting up the DVR didn’t sound like a good idea. Oh well, the playground is not going anywhere, so if you feel like taking an hour and 20 minute ride, you can go see it. Well worth it.  Port Washington is so beautiful. The playground is very near the lake. Those of you that were there now have the same dream as me stuck in their heads.”

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Update on dream playground

At last night’s Common Council meeting, Tammy Conforti gave an update on the Kenosha Dream Playground Project.  During the Citizens’ Comments portion of the meeting, Conforti said that she met with the mayor last week, and he fully endorsed the project.  She said that his words were, “This is no problem.  We can get this done.  Meet with Mr. Jeff Warnock (parks superintendent) to get the details.”

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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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Airport commission approves ordinance change on communication tower

Kenosha Regional Airport – Master Plan Update

At this afternoon’s Airport Commission meeting, a zoning ordinance change relating to communication towers was approved unanimously.  City development coordinator Brian Wilke gave some introductory comments about the item, and then Ray Arbet, public works director for Kenosha County, also spoke.  On August 9th, the City Plan Commission gave their approval as well.  See the related article:  City Plan Commission Approves Ordinance Change on Towers.  The Common Council will have to give its final approval.

The zoning ordinance currently regulates height and setbacks for communication towers via the conditional use permit process.  Generally speaking, communication (cellular) towers can vary from 100 feet to 150 feet in height.  Radio/television/relay towers can be constructed up to 300 feet in height.

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Parks Commission approves plan for Southport Park

At tonight’s Board of Park Commissioners meeting, an agenda item had to do with spending $38,000 on a task order for professional services by SAA Design Group, Inc., for the master park plan for Southport Park.  The study is due to be be finalized by December 21st.

There will be a series of three informational meetings scheduled in the next four months, inviting the public to give their input.  Chairman Michael Orth said that “typically, they do more listening than talking at these informational meetings.  They then synthesize the input and then present it at the next meeting.”

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