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Lake park protestors make waves leading up to decision day

Picketers voice their opposition outside Muskego officials' homes

Jan. 23, 2012

Muskego - Regardless of what decision the Muskego Common Council reached Tuesday on a proposed lakeside park, the days leading up to the public input meeting were tumultous.

On Sunday, picketers who don't want the city to buy two properties to create a park on Little Muskego Lake appeared in front of the homes of Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti and three aldermen - Keith Werner, Tracy Snead and Noah Fiedler - who are believed to support the proposal.

The sign-wielding picketers objected to what they see as the park idea being railroaded through without adequate public comment. They also carried with them various reasons why the proposed park is a bad idea.

A debate about public input

One of those picketers was former alderman David Taube, who said he wanted a better chance for public input - perhaps an entire evening devoted to the debate.

Taube said that was actually done in 2010, when roughly 230 people packed the Muskego High School cafeteria to have their say about a larger park proposal on the same land. The vast majority of speakers that evening was against a park, and the idea was dropped.

The new proposal arose in smaller form last August, when the city was extended an offer to buy two homes, instead of the original four, for the park.

Lori Oliver, the main organizer of the protest and a neighbor of the proposed park, said she did it because, "We have a mayor and an alderman who believe they don't have to be concerned what people think."

But Chiaverotti said Monday that people on both sides of the issue have spoken at four meetings during the public comment portion. And they would get to give their input again Tuesday night as the council goes through the process of considering the proposal that was brought to it.

The reason council debate and a vote were scheduled to follow immediately is to enable people to see and hear the debate without having to come back to another meeting, she said.

Chiaverotti wasn't home during the picketing, but she later returned to speak with the media covering the protest.

"They were civil," she said of the picketers and within their rights. "I know they're emotionally charged, but some information on their signs was not accurate."

Moving the meeting

The other development regarding the lake park issue was the unorthodox move of changing the location of Tuesday's meeting from the City Hall to the Muskego Lakes Country Club, W14020 Loomis Road.

Chiaverotti said officials realized a much bigger place would be needed because of the crowds that might attend that meeting.

Muskego High School was their first thought, but Chiaverotti said she could not get through at the district office to inquire about space in the Performing Arts Center.

However, it turned out the PAC was not available anyway. It's being prepared for the high school's theater drama in February dramatic, said Steven Krause, PAC manager and technical director.

The meeting was moved to the country club in the middle of last week. The change was listed on the city's website, and aldermen contacted constituents about it, Chiaverotti said. A sign was to have been placed on the door at City Hall, also.

Although the meeting could not be televised live at either the country club or the high school, it was to have been recorded and could be available for viewing by now.

The council's action, if any, came after press deadline. For the latest, go to MyMuskegoNOW.com.

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