Little Muskego Lake park plan again has its skeptics
But at least one previous opponent sees value in idea
Muskego — Despite a certain amount of skepticism, the Common Council will at least consider a park proposed for the shores of Little Muskego Lake.
An informal public information meeting about the park could be in late November but more likely in early December. After getting a feel for whether residents want a park on Janesville Road a little west of Pioneer Drive, the council will vote on whether to take the next step toward buying the two adjoining lake properties that are offered for sale for a park.
The proposal is the third for a park on Little Muskego Lake in the same area. Two larger and controversial proposals failed.
Too tiny and costly?
The skepticism was evident at last week's Committee of the Whole meeting.
Some aldermen expressed a concern that the proposed park might be too small. It would be the size of two residential lots.
"It just seems too small," said Alderwoman Eileen Madden.
"It doesn't appeal much to me," Alderman Kevin Kubacki agreed.
Another concern was that the city would have to borrow money to buy and raze the two houses on the properties. The total cost of establishing a park is estimated at roughly $666,000, although state grants might be available to offset some of that.
Lori Oliver, a resident who was an outspoken critic of the first two park proposals, said after the meeting that aldermen should be concerned about that potential debt.
"I'm surprised they would even consider it if they have to borrow money," Oliver said.
One alderman also said maintaining another park would put a strain on city resources.
Neighborly concerns, too
Still another concern was over how to maintain the privacy and quality of life for residents of a neighboring property. The properties offered for sale for a park swing around the neighboring house and include a long and narrow strip of lake frontage on the other side of it.
"There definitely would have to be a buffer built around the property," said Alderman Rob Glazier, who represents the area.
After the Committee of the Whole meeting, Jim Lindhorst, who lives in the house with this wife, Heidi, concurred they have privacy and safety concerns.
Lindhorst was especially worried about the prospect of a pier in the park. Boaters using the peer would make swimming potentially dangerous at his house, he said. And if D.J.'s Pub & Grill next door is rebuilt, there also might be late-night disturbances as boaters leave from a park pier, he added.
Glazier noted that a pier could not be built if the city uses state grants to buy the land, because the Department of Natural Resources requires the land be in the same condition or even more natural in such cases. Likewise, a beach would not be permitted at the site, he said.
Some basis of support
Suzi Link, who opposed the earlier park plans, sees this one differently because the financial picture is better.
"This is the first positive, viable proposal," Link said. "It's the most affordable and most logical place looked at so far."
She also said the original intent of a park as a catalyst for downtown development in the nearby historic district could work, but the community must be onboard.
"I've always supported the idea of a park to help downtown grow — but with common sense and respecting the will of the community," Link said
Whether the proposed park would be good or bad would depend on how it is implemented, she said.
At this point, public feedback on the idea has been mixed, aldermen said last week.
People are open-minded and want the city to explore the matter, Glazier reported, but Alderman Robert Wolfe said the constituents he has talked to don't want the city to buy the land.
But the consensus of the council was that nothing would be lost by holding a public input meeting to see how people feel about the proposal.
The land in question
The two lake properties are being offered by the heirs of Betty Lemke, who lived on the lake for many years and died in August 2012.
Her house was included with four others in the first park proposal in 2010. That proposal failed amid the controversy that engulfed the community. A second smaller park was proposed later but it also proved controversial and failed.
On behalf of himself and his siblings, Jonathan Lemke wrote to the Common Council in offering the land: "The green space park proposal was embraced by our mother who felt it would preserve the beauty of the lake and land she treasured for over 80 years."
The heirs are giving the city first choice on the properties, which they have not tried to sell on the open market, Lemke said. Neither house is occupied.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- News & Notes: Dec. 2
- Announcements kick off elections in Muskego
- Third Muskego lake park idea goes under
- Muskego School Board president won't seek re-election
- Prime land can only sit and wait in Muskego
- News & Notes: Nov. 28
- Muskego mayor announces intention to run for second term
- News & Notes: Nov. 18
- Muskego's Christmas celebration has a golden touch
- Muskego's Jammin' fest finds life after construction