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Written by KRISTYN HALBIG ZIEHM   
Wednesday, 17 February 2016 21:12

Pending development of former Schanen farm raises question of who will provide sewer service

The City of Port Washington and Village of Saukville are set to resume talks over utility service to the former Schanen farm on the south side of Highway 33 on Port’s far west side.

The Port Common Council was to meet in closed session Wednesday to discuss the status of negotiations between the communities and strategies, terms and conditions for an agreement on who will provide sewer service to the property.

The 40-acre site, which is bordered on the west by Jackson Road, is owned by the City of Port and in the city’s borders, but it is within the village’s sanitary sewer service area.

That means that while the city would extend water service to the site, the village would handle its wastewater.

Since the city acquired the land more than a decade ago, Port has unsuccessfully sought to have the land placed in its sewer service area. 

The property has long been envisioned as a multi-use site, most recently with parcels for a youth baseball complex, commercial uses and a residential development.

Rich Stasik, president of Port Youth Baseball, said that the group hopes to begin building a 90-foot field and the concessions stand this year.

Although talks between the two communities have lagged, news that Port Youth Baseball wants to get started has prompted the city to reopen negotiations, Mayor Tom Mlada said.

“They’re looking to us for direction,” he said. “We’re definitely hearing from different board members that they’re getting close. There’s more impetus for us to get something done.”

Talks between the city and village have been dormant for much of the past year, but the city recently approached the village to reopen negotiations, Mlada said.

“To some degree, the negotiations were driven by demand from youth baseball,” he said. “But the bottom line is we’re going to have to sit down and figure out what the best option is. Obviously we’ve got plans for that property.”

The city is open to a number of options to get the land in its sewer service area, Mlada said, including a property swap or payout.

“We have to look at what’s most advantageous,” he said.

Saukville President Barb Dickmann said the village is open to resuming talks, but added that it is also prepared to extend sewer service to the site.

“Saukville is happy to service the baseball people,” she said. “The area in question is in Saukville’s sanitary sewer area. We updated our wastewater treatment plant to include service to that area. 

“It was always our intent to service that area.”

The village’s sewer lines are close to the property, Dickmann said.

A study by the village engineer estimated that the village would lose $23,000 in revenue annually over 20 years if it did not service the property, Dickmann said.

“We’re waiting to see what the City of Port is offering,” she said. “I’m open to hearing what the city has to say. We would like to reach an agreement that is fair to both communities.”

Mlada agreed.

“We want to resolve this working together,” he said. “We have a good working relationship with Saukville.”

When the City of Port Washington acquired the Schanen property in 2000, it straddled Highway 33. The city expected a soccer complex and recreational park would be built on the south side, and it sold the northern portion of the land to Bielinski Brothers Builders for a subdivision.

While the subdivision was built, the soccer complex did not come to fruition. Then, in 2012, Port Youth Baseball proposed creating a four-diamond complex with one regulation field, one intermediate-sized field and two Little League fields, along with a concessions stand and equipment shed.

Other amenities, such as a walking trail, are likely to be incorporated into the design as well, the association said.

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