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Despite waves of protest, lake park plan gains ground

Jan. 25, 2012

After hearing 53 speakers, most of them against a proposed park on Little Muskego Lake, the Muskego Common Council on Tuesday night narrowly approved purchasing properties for $3.6 million to push the plan forward without a referendum.

The decision was made in a pair of 4-3 votes - with aldermen Noah Fiedler, Neome Schaumberg, Keith Werner and Tracy Snead favoring the purchase and opposing a referendum, and Dan Soltysiak, Neil Borgman and Kert Harenda opposing the purchase and favoring a public vote.

The issue has been a hotly contested one, especially in the past month, including picketers who protested outside the homes of council members who support the acquisition of the two properties.

On Tuesday, Werner said he favors the plan, which calls for a park off of Janesville Road just north of Pioneer Drive, because "this project is going to be a catalyst to promote economic development" on both those roads.

On the opposing side, Soltysiak said, "I don't have enough information to make the argument to go through with it."

Opinions among those who spoke from the roughly 230 people in the audience was sharply divided, too. Thirty-five people spoke out against the purchase, while 18 supported the idea. Two letters, both from supporters, were also read into the record.

Opponents of the plan are already making bid to head off the sale by gathering signatures on a petition to stop it through direct legislation. Normally with direct legislation, the governing body either votes the direct legislation into law or it goes to a referendum. But how that effort will play out in light of closings on the properties is hard to tell, at this point, officials said.

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