Christianson, Johnson vie for seats on Stoughton’s City Council

Two candidates are vying to serve District 2 of the Stoughton City Council, one of the two contested nonpartisan local elections. Incumbent Ronald Christianson is trying to hold off political newcomer Kathleen Tass Johnson as voters prepare to go to the polls on April 5. Councilmembers serve three-year terms with alternate term endings.

Christianson has held a seat on the Stoughton City Council since 2004, after he was re-elected after being beaten out in 2003. He serves on the Redevelopment Authority, which focuses on improving certain parts of the city of Stoughton, and is also the chairman for the Planning Commission.

Johnson has lived in Stoughton for the past six years, and is new to the political arena. She made a living as a realtor for over a decade before transitioning to a healthcare career. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in art and coursework in landscape architecture, law class land use and community development.

This election comes down to one major issue: whether or not the city should develop commercial areas outside of the city center. The project, Kettle Park West, would consist primarily of commercial and retail uses. Since the first proposal of Kettle Park West in 2013, developers attempted to identify potential lands for the development, before settling on a 140-acre piece of land on Stoughton’s west side.

Christianson is very much in favor of Kettle Park West, believing that it will be appealing to families who are interested in moving to Stoughton.

“It’s not about building Wal-Marts or supercenters,” Christianson said. “It’s about attracting families here.”

On the other side of the spectrum sits Johnson. Her opposition of Kettle Park West was a big reason as to why she decided to run for city council. Johnson believes that residents of Stoughton aren’t interested in new developments.

“I’ve talked to people and very few are in favor of this,” Johnson said. “To them and to me, there’s just very little upside.”

Johnson also doesn’t believe her inexperience should be of importance to the voters, stating that her views should be the only thing that matters.

“I’ve been outspoken when it comes to my ideas on how to improve Stoughton,” she said. “My lack of experience should be irrelevant.”

Voters will make their decision on April 5.

Common Council talks library expansion, waste system

A library expansion and a high strength waste receiving station were two main issues the Whitewater Common Council discussed on March 1.

Whitewater City Manager Cameron Clapper opened the discussion about expanding the Irvin L. Young Memorial Library. The discussion about the long-talked about expansion was merely that; a discussion. Clapper solely wanted to know how the interest level would be.

“I want to stress this is just an idea,” Clapper said.

The library expansion would possibly also include a private hotel. Clapper mentioned a Holiday Inn could be an option.

By estimates, the expansion would be 25,000 sq. feet, costing around $10 million. Whitewater is pursuing a public/private partnership in an effort to duplicate Plateville’s library expansion with the help of United Development Solutions LCC.

“We’re not going to be able to get a bigger library any other way,” said councilperson Ken Kidd.

According to Clapper, the developer of the library would own it for the first seven years in order to take advantage of the new market tax credits. The new market tax credit program provides incentives to investors for equity investments in community development entities. After seven years, the developer would return the library would be returned to the city, if everything went as planned.

“We need to cover any risk exposure,” Clapper said.

The Common Council is hoping for a seven-year lease at $250,000 per year. The total project cost is estimated to be around $15-$16 million, but the council hopes, if it can find a partner, to gain an $8 million library for just $2.5 million plus the lease payment.

The council agreed this idea was worth looking more into, and planned on contacting Troy Hoekstra of United Development and request a formal proposal.

The Common Council also rejected a part of the waste receiving station, called Alternative 7 which was a subset of the other renovations the city is doing to the treatment plant.

Alternative 7 includes construction of a 25,000 gallon concrete tank. This would allow high strength waste from outside sources to be pumped into existing city digesters, according to agenda item information sheet. The biggest benefit of this tank would be the additional methane gas, which is used to heat water.

Whitewater is installing entirely new equipment to the treatment plant because it’s the cheaper option than finding replacement parts. The treatment plant in Whitewater is 33 years old.

Councilperson Lynn Binnie formally moved to eliminate “Alternative 7” but to keep the stub-out lines. The motion passed 5-2.

The council planned to contact Baker Tilly, a company who specializes in financing projects such as this, and ask if it could make a formal presentation to the council during its next meeting on March 15.

Introduction

My name is Justin Schultz, and I’m a Journalism major here at UWW. As far as writing goes, my main interest is in baseball. I run my own Milwaukee Brewers website (TheFirstOutAtThird.com) that focuses on advanced statistics. I someday hope to be a full-time blogger. But until then, I’ll just keep plugging away and try to make my site the best it can be.