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Planned baseball complex runs into sewer debate PDF Print E-mail
Community
Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 06 September 2017 18:35

Organization ready to start work but Port, Saukville must first come to terms over service for city site

   A long simmering debate between the Village of Saukville and City of Port Washington over which community will provide sewer service to a property on Port’s west side is threatening to delay development of a youth baseball complex on the site, Port officials were told Tuesday.
    Richard Stasik, president of Port Youth Baseball, told aldermen that after years of working on plans for a four-field baseball complex on a portion of the former Schanen farm south of Highway 33 and directly east of Jackson Road, the organization has the money needed to build the first field, a 90-foot regulation diamond.
    The group wants to also build restrooms there, Stasik said, but the question of which community will provide sewer service to the land needs to be resolved.
    The group had even looked at installing a holding tank, he said, but that won’t work.
    Aldermen agreed Tuesday it’s time to double down on negotiations since the group is ready to begin construction and, Stasik said, has already lost $8,000 in donations because of delays in starting the work.
    The issue comes because the land, which is owned by the City of Port Washington and within the city limits, would be served by the city’s water utility but is in the Village of Saukville’s sanitary sewer district.
    Village officials told Port Youth Baseball it would cost about $160,000 to extend the sewer line from Schmit Ford, where it currently ends, east to the site, Stasik said.
    The cost to hook up to Port’s sewer utility would be about $40,000, City Administrator Mark Grams said, noting the city’s sewer lines abut the land.
    The city and village have been negotiating over the right to provide sewer service to the property for years, Grams said, noting that in addition to the 19-acre baseball complex, the 40-acre property is also slated for some residential and commercial development.
    Initially, the city offered to swap some land in its sewer service district for this property, Grams said.
    “Saukville has basically balked at that,” he said.
    He questioned why the village is so determined to provide sewer service to the complex, noting the amount of revenue the village would realize there would be “negligible.”
    The city has also had talks with the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and Department of Natural Resources about changing the sewer service area, but to no avail, Grams added.
    “Basically what the village is looking for is dollars,” Grams said.
    At one point, he noted, the property was in the city’s sewer service area but in the mid-1980s, when the Port-Saukville School District was considering land across the street for a high school, the city and village exchanged areas so the school would be serviced by the city.  
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said the village is looking to receive $23,000 annually — the amount of revenue it says it would receive by servicing the land — in order to give up the sewer service area.
    “Saukville is effectively making development decisions for the City of Port Washington,” Ald. Doug Biggs said, since no development can occur without sewer service.
    Noting that the city has estimated the cost of extending the sewer service from Saukville to the site at more than $250,000, Biggs added, “For a nonprofit organization to have to bear an additional $200,000 in cost ... is ridiculous.
    “This is about kids being able to participate.”
    If the city waits for Saukville to extend its sewer service to the property as the village grows, “it’s not going to happen,” Vanden Noven said. The land between the village and city is in the Town of Port and those property owners are unlikely to hook into the utility.
    “Outside of paying Saukville, I don’t see this moving very quickly,” Ald. Mike Ehrlich said.
    He asked if Port Youth Baseball had considered other sites for its complex.
    Stasik said the group has not, noting there are virtually no other locations that are affordable.
    “We’re not flush with cash,” he said.
    If the group were to build only the field and not the restrooms, Stasik said, it would build a smaller field first, even though the greatest demand is for the larger one.
    That’s because if Saukville were to someday extend sewer service to the site, the line would run through the middle of the 90-foot field, he said.
    Noting that the city bought the Schanen farm in 2000 expecting a soccer park and recreational complex to be constructed there, Ald. John Sigwart said it’s time to get the issue solved.
    “It seems to me we have more at stake here than just a baseball diamond,” Sigwart said. “We have land here that can’t be developed. I think we’re in an untenable place. We have to do something that will be proactive. We have an investment here.”

 
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