Letter to the Editor: Why the Hurry?
On Oct. 25, by a 2-1 vote, the Jacksonport Town Board placed on the agenda for the Nov. 15 meeting of electors the matter of “disposal of town real property, specifically the Koulias house in the Lakeside Park addition.”
Why the hurry? And why take the vote when some seasonal residents, many of whom are among the shore property owners who pay the majority of township property taxes, have already closed up their houses for the winter? The timing leaves them not only without vote but also without voice.
According to Wisconsin Statutes, electors must be consulted relative to purchase or disposal of town property, usually at the annual meeting in April. No such vote has been taken in the several years since the Koulias property was acquired. Nevertheless the township has put the purchase of that house out for bids more than once. It is dismaying that an important decision will now be made on such short notice.
During the April 2017 annual meeting, Jacksonport electors will be consulted on expansion of the Town Hall and Fire Department. The Building and Grounds Committee has pursued that project in an appropriate manner with admirable efficiency and a spirit of community cooperation. Would that the Parks Committee, which has already been at work for several years, had been as successful.
Disposal of property in this case probably means razing the building. Perhaps that is the right course of action, but if it is not, such action cannot be undone.
The township has paid an architect and a landscape architect to provide varied plans for using the Lakeside Park addition. Those plans include making minimal changes to the Koulias property, razing the Koulias house, repurposing that house for park use, building modest new structures, or spending more than a million dollars on more grandiose undertakings. Funding for whatever plan is chosen would come in part from a pending Knowles-Nelson grant should it be approved.
It is my firm belief that Jacksonport should wait until April 2017 to have the electors decide. Certainly before I vote I would like to know what the cost will be of razing the Koulias house, what plan is being pursued for the park addition, the cost of such plan and the source of funding for it, as well as the impact of the plan on the established Lakeside Park.