Oak Creek will move in to Delphi site

Library and city hall will be part of major development

Feb. 8, 2012

Oak Creek - Mayor Al Foeckler, saying that it was "with great respect" to late Mayor Dick Bolender, cast the deciding vote to relocate the city hall and library to the site of the former Delphi Automotive plant.

The divisive 3-3 Common Council vote Tuesday night came after a lengthy discussion by residents and aldermen about the merits and drawbacks of a move to the redevelopment site at 7925 S. Howell Ave.

About 50 people attended the meeting, at which three city hall and library proposals were considered.

Voting in favor of moving the city buildings to the Delphi site were mayoral candidate and Alderman Tom Michalski, Alderman Dan Jakubczyk and Alderman Ken Gehl. The three mentioned the option that has the lowest construction costs, $21.3 million, and potentially the greatest tax base and job generator, projected at about $250 million.

Enough information?

"From my perspective, we have enough information to make a decision," said Gehl, who is running for Milwaukee County supervisor. "I think the opportunity is immense."

Those opposed - Alderman Steve Scaffidi, who is also running for mayor, Alderman Michael Toman and Alderman Daniel Bukiewicz - said they did not have enough information yet to make a decision. However, Toman and Scaffidi both said they favored moving at least the library to the Delphi site, one of the three options on the table.

"Rash decisions are not good decisions," Scaffidi said.

The other option was that the city hall and library remain on the civic center property, 8640 S. Howell Ave.

Land swap hangup

A sticking point in the discussion was that one option included a land swap with the Oak Creek-Franklin School District. The city would exchange the 12-acre civic center site for 50 acres the district owns on Oakwood Road and Howell Avenue.

That 50 acres then would be swapped for seven acres on the Delphi site, where the city hall and library would be built. The city would also be paid $725,000 from the developer, WisPark LLC, the development arm of We Energies.

Those 50 acres would be added to the adjacent 205 acres WisPark already owns and allow for the development of the Oak View Business Park.

WisPark bought the Delphi site last year for $8 million; the purchase was financed in part with $2 million from the city. Delphi closed in 2008.

At a meeting Jan. 30 between the council and the School Board, WisPark President Jerry Franke said without those 50 acres, the business park would not be viable. With the acreage, the park could generate 1,400 new jobs and add $64 million to the tax base, he added.

Foeckler, appointed to complete Bolender's term, noted the importance of that park.

"The Oak View Business Park is an important component of the land swap," he said. "This is a really special opportunity, and I hope the council doesn't pass it up."

City Attorney Larry Haskin said the next step would be for the staff to begin formal negotiations with the School Board for the land swap. If no deal can be made, he said the council's action "was not cast on stone," and a different siting option could be considered.

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