9/11 memorial, Lisbon incorporation top stories of year
1The construction of the 9-11 memorial in the Town of Lisbon, built by volunteer trades and crafts workers throughout Southeastern Wisconsin and funded by scores of corporate and individual donations, was the top story in the Sussex Sun during 2011. Newly elected U.S. Senator Ron Johnson was the keynote speaker at the Sept. 11 dedication of the memorial in Town Hall Park that was attended by estimated 1,500 to 2,000 people.
The dedication ceremony, construction of the memorial, and unique fundraising events, attracted media attention through the region and state.
A few weeks before the dedication, there was concern about the project. Cash was running low and the intense summer heat, along with a shortage of volunteers, had slowed construction. But, the last-minute efforts of a small cadre of Milwaukee-area bricklayers and mason along with a late infusion of funds helped complete the monument which features as its center piece a scarred and damaged I-beam section from the twin towers of New York City.
Because of its homemade design and construction, it may be one of the most unique 9-11 monuments that pays tribute to the more than 3,000 people who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks and the first responders that tried to rescue them from the burning buildings in New York and Washington, D.C
The efforts to raise more than $100,000 cash and contributions of labor and materials was a display of community unity and good well that nearly overshadowed a year of bickering between the Town of Lisbon and the Village of Sussex.
2 An incorporation effort by Lisbon to become a village was blocked by Sussex. A state Incorporation Review Board ruled that the town had failed to meet the qualifications to become a village. But, some members of the state board said that objections raised by Sussex played an important role in the rejection of the town's incorporation petition.
Town officials claimed the intervention by the village violated the border agreement between the two communities and town and village officials are now engaged in formal mediation in an effort to resolve their differences.
3Meanwhile, Town Chairman Matt Gehrke has said he will not support a new library agreement between the two communities to fund and operate the Pauline Haas Library until Sussex agrees to pay a bigger share of the approximately $1 million the two local governments contribute to library operations.
Gehrke argued that since Sussex residents use the library more than Lisbon residents, the village should pay the most money. Presently, the two communities pay about the same to the library because their contributions are based on the sizes of their tax bases which are about equal.
Library board members, the staff, and a representative from each local government board spent much of the year trying to negotiate a compromise.
A Sussex citizens committee spent much of the year studying the future of Village Hall. The committee determined the existing building in the old Main Street School is too old, outdated, and too expensive to expand. Instead, they recommended that a new Village Hall be built near the existing site.
4 Across from Village Hall, the owners of the Piggly Wiggly spent much of the year in discussions with corporate executives and village hall officials about a potential expansion of the grocery store.
Initially, Dennis and Donna Lipofksi were contemplating building an approximately 4,500-square-foot addition on the west side of the Main Street building. However, at the urging of Piggly Wiggly Midwest officials, they considered the possibility of building a new store. But talks with the corporate headquarters over financing the project failed and the Lipofski's decided to restrict the expansion to remodeling in the interior of the store.
The discussions about expanding the Pig and building a new Village Hall were part of a year long overall review of plans for redeveloping Main Street.
5More development. The plans focus on potential improvements in the neighborhoods surrounding the Village Hall complex as well as potential future development at the intersection of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue (Highway 174).
Brookfield business executive Arthur Sawall purchased the 10-acre site of the former Mammoth Springs Cannery Company at the corner of Waukesha Avenue and Main Street with the intent of developing a multi-use residential and commercial complex on the site.
He had anticipated presenting initial plans to the village in October. Instead, he spent much of the latter half of the year in negotiations with Waukesha County officials and previous owners regarding how to move the Bug Line Recreational Trail off of his land. The trail which dissects the property will have to be relocated.
Village officials are exploring the possibility of creating Tax Increment Financing (TIF) districts at the intersection of Main Street and Waukesha Avenue and near Village Hall to help provide tax incentives for new development along Main Street.
6Economic growth. Village officials were also asked this year to consider tax incentives for a new development near Highway 164 and Silver Spring Road (Highway VV). The development firm of NAI/MLG Commercial announced they were considering purchasing the nearly 400-acre Meissner Farm for the development of an industrial park.
The announcement of the new development was indicative of the village's ability to sustain economic growth despite the great national recession.
Construction began in 2011 on the development of a moderate to high end priced condominium complex adjacent to the upscale Seven Stones residential development located at Seven Stones Drive and Highway 164.
There were a number of new business starts in the village including a fitness center and two new restaurants.
An executive with NAI/MLG said the village's low taxes, high quality schools, and local government stability, were among the factors that made the community attractive to new businesses and development despite the national economy.
7 Two magazine publications, Milwaukee Magazine and Bloomberg Business Week, apparently agreed.
Milwaukee Magazine ranked Sussex as the third best place to live among 50 Milwaukee suburbs.
Bloomberg Businessweek's web site ranked the community "The Best Place to Raise Kids in Wisconsin."
8 There was a changing of the guard on the Village Board as a result of municipal elections. Former Village Trustee Greg Goetz was elected village president defeating Hamilton School District President Gabe Kolesari.
Former village president Tony Lapcinski did not seek reelection. Voters also returned former Trustee Jim Batzko and incumbents Tim Dietrich and Jason Wegner to the board.
Two new trustees, Bob Zarzynski and Matthew Cmeyla, were appointed to the board. Zarzynski was appointed to succeed Goetz following his election as mayor. Cmeyla succeeded Fred Gallant who resigned.
Town Board Chairman Matt Gehrke and incumbent Supervisor Joe Osterman and Dan Heier were reelected without opposition in the April municipal elections.
9 The Town Board, however, lost its battle to block the closing of the Canadian National Railroad vehicle crossing at Colgate Road. State rail officials announced in August they would close the crossing because they considered too dangerous even though there have only been vehicle accidents there is nearly 30 years.
10 Residents of the Sussex-Lisbon communities received some unexpected - in some sense unwanted - advice from Village Police Services Director James Gumm; "Lock your doors."
For decades many residents in the communities had left their residential and car doors unlocked. Gumm reminded them that while Lisbon and Sussex may be great places to live, there is still crime and criminals.
In other top news stories, Halquist Stone Company announced that because of new enforcement of some federal job site safety regulations it would discontinue sponsoring Dozer Days a decades-long tradition in the communities.
The Village Board continued its quest for federal approval of quiet zone designation at rail crossings. The village has said it is willing to construct new safety improvements at the crossing in exchange for a ban on train whistles at the crossings.
The Town of Lisbon continued developing a regional paramedic emergency response service and entered into a contract to provide the Village of Merton with snowplowing services.