Hope for a Saukville deal slows Port firehouse push

City officials want to explore agreement with village that would clear way for Hwy. 33 station
By 
KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM
Ozaukee Press staff

Port Washington’s push to build a new firehouse on the city’s west side hit the pause button Tuesday as officials said they want to hear from the Village of Saukville before making the next move.

“We’ll see how the meeting with Saukville goes on (Sept.) 11,” Ald. Dan Benning said. “Right now, we’ve still got some discussions going with the county.”

City Administrator Mark Grams added, “If Saukville becomes a player, it changes things for us.”

That’s because Port has identified three potential sites for a new firehouse, with the Ozaukee County Justice Center parking lot and the former Schanen farm along Highway 33 at Jackson Road being the leading contenders.

The city and county have been talking about building a joint fire station and storage facility at the county-owned Justice Center, but some officials are skeptical that there is enough room at the site.

The Schanen farm is owned by the city but it lies within the Village of Saukville’s sewer service area. The city has talked to Saukville in the past about potentially allowing the city to service that area, with Grams estimating it would cost the city $30,000 to serve the site while it would cost Saukville about $200,000 to do the same.

But Saukville officials have said they want between $25,000 and $30,000 annually for that service, saying this would offset a loss in utility revenue if the site were developed and the village did not provide the service.

Mayor Marty Becker wrote to Village President Barb Dickmann last month asking the village to relinquish its sewer service rights to the land, saying it would allow the fire station project to move forward, something that would also benefit the village.

Dickmann brought the matter to the village’s Finance Committee last week, and the committee is expected to continue those discussions Wednesday, Sept. 11.

Benning said that even as the city waits for those discussions, he and Fire Chief Mark Mitchell have been working to prepare a request for proposals to design the firehouse, adding they have asked City Attorney Eric Eberhardt to review the document.

Grams suggested that the Common Council review the request for proposals to ensure all the bases are covered.

And, Benning said, they are making a list of what needs to be done at the existing fire station when the new one is built.

Becker said Tuesday that Saukville’s decision to look at the matter is a good sign, adding it could pave the way for development of the entire 40-acre Schanen farm.

No matter what, Benning said, he would like to see the city work on a joint project.

“I’m still very much interested in partnering with (the county) or Saukville with  this,” Benning said. 

The county has said that it would prefer working on the Justice Center site, he said, but there is still some potential to move ahead with a joint project on the Schanen farm.

Becker agreed with the idea of partnering, saying, “I think it would be really good if all three of us could work together.”

Benning also said many people have mentioned the former von Schledorn car dealership on South Spring Street as a potential site for the fire station, but said this isn’t a practical location.

“We don’t own it,” he said, adding that even if the city were to buy the property, the building is not a fire station and would have to be razed and rebuilt, making the idea cost prohibitive.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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