Commission weighs the purchase of a pizzeria site in the town of Christiana | Cambridge News / Deerfield Independent
The town of Christiana wants to sell the Cambridge Community Fire Commission and EMS the site of a pizzeria on which the Cambridge Fire and EMS station is expected to expand.
The town of Christiana purchased the site adjacent to the station, on West Main Street in Cambridge, for $ 280,000 in 2019. It did so with the written agreement of four other towns and villages in the area with which it shares ownership. annual costs of fires and EMS, and it was proposed to share the $ 6.5 million cost of expanding the station, which they would reimburse to Christiana over time with nominal interest.
Things got complicated after an April 6 referendum to fund her share of the costs of expanding the station and to authorize the purchase of the land, failed Christiana.
The referendum was held, in part, to appease some local residents who said the purchase of the restaurant’s site was made illegally, without first holding a vote at a voters’ meeting in the city of Christiana.
And, local residents noted, the 5-lane restoration site purchase agreement said successful referendums were needed in all five towns and villages, or else it would become null and void.
Local residents said they were ready to forgive Christiana’s misstep if five referendums passed; but they ran aground at Christiana, Cambridge and Oakland, passing only to Rockdale and the town of Lake Mills.
On May 27, city president Mark Cook told the Fire and EMS Commission that the city’s attorney suggested he enter into a land contract with the commission, in which the city would initially continue to hold the deed. Ultimately, the commission would become the owner and pay the city $ 280,000.
“We don’t owe any money on that, we paid in cash,” Cook said. “And we’re not looking to make money on it, we just don’t want to own it.
“I would give it to you if I could figure out how to do it, but my lawyer says I can’t,” Cook continued.
Cook said he expects Christiana’s city council to vote at its next meeting on June 8, to present a recommendation to the fire and SME board on August 24. Local town and village councils are also expected to approve the plan.
In other cases, on May 27, Fire Commission and EMS Chairman Gene Kapsner, also President of the City of Oakland, apologized for misinterpreting a building review committee recently formed, tasked with reviewing plans for the station after the failed referendums, could meet behind closed doors and without posting its agendas.
“I was under the assumption that we had an ad hoc committee and ad hoc committees did not require posting and open meetings,” Kapsner said. Since then, “we have learned from lawyers for the Association of Towns (of Wisconsin) that since there is an appointment from each municipality, it is a government body,” whose meetings must be open. and displayed.
“I’m sorry about this,” Kapsner said.
the Cambridge News and Deerfield Independent filed a formal complaint with the Dane County District Attorney’s Office alleging that the May 13 Building Review Committee kick-off meeting violated Wisconsin’s open meetings law, for not being released and for internal email communication from Fire Chief Terry Johnson to committee members, which the newspaper obtained, which said it would be closed to the public. Facing pressure to do so, Johnson eventually opened the meeting, but it was never released. He said the committee will meet in open session in the future.
Cambridge Village President McNally also asked who made the decision ahead of the May 13 Building Review Committee meeting to increase its membership from 11 to 13 members.
McNally said there were no such actions during the last fire and EMS commission to which the committee reports.
“I’m just wondering where the authority is coming from to change this?” McNally said.
Kapsner said the decision was made by another committee, which he admitted never noticed its meetings and never published minutes. He and Johnson said he has been meeting monthly, sometimes weekly, for at least 4 to 5 years.
In attendance were – at least – Kapsner, Johnson and Devin Flanagan of Keller, Inc., the Kaukauna design-build company hired by the commission for the station expansion project.
Kapsner said he has been attending these meetings since January. He said it meets the definition of an ad hoc committee that can meet behind closed doors without public notice.
“I discussed this with Terry and Devin at the previous building committee meeting,” Kapsner said, regarding the decision to add two more members of the general community. “And we chose four.”
“Did anyone write the notes, is there anything (that has been made public) about your discussions that have taken place?” McNally asked.
“Not that I know of,” Kapsner said.
“I just don’t know what’s covered… as long as there are elements of a substantial nature,” McNally said. “If there are any meetings going on, I would appreciate the record of everything that has been discussed.”
In response to the exchange, the committee voted to add two at-large members to the committee.
McNally also asked why Flanagan had, during the first two meetings of the Building Review Committee, acted as a facilitator. He called it a conflict of interest for a hired contractor.
In response, the committee asked the committee, at its next meeting on June 3, to elect a chair to chair the meetings.
The commission also discussed the timeline for voting again on a proposal to expand the station.
Flanagan said if the goal is to start construction in the spring of 2022, referendums or special voters’ meetings in the city will have to take place in early September.
If community briefings are to take place before that, they should be scheduled soon, commission members acknowledged.
Julie Nelles and Dave Schroeder, the Rockdale and City of Lake Mills representatives on the commission, said that because their April referendums passed, they did not need to have such a vote again. .
Kapsner said it was ultimately up to Oakland City Council, but expected to hold a special meeting of the city’s voters, not a referendum.
Cook and McNally said they expected referendums to be scheduled in Cambridge and Christiana.
Kapsner said it was critical that those votes take place by fall.
“If we fix this for the next spring election, you’re going to postpone this project for a year. The price will not be the same as it is today, ”Kapsner said.
However, Sheila Palinkas, a member of the Buildings Review Committee, asked if her group, which so far has only met twice, can complete whatever it is assigned to by the end of the summer. A schedule distributed before her first meeting stretched until November, she said.
“There is no way that the work done by this committee can be done in time to impose a deadline in September,” Palinkas said.