Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

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If Mecum grows, changes may come

by Jade Bolack

January 03, 2013

WALWORTH — Village President David Rasmussen expects 2013 to "actually be fun."

Rasmussen and three trustees have terms ending in the spring, and all but one are running for re-election. Trustee Pat Hubertz submitted his noncandidacy forms.

Trustees Todd Watters and Dennis Vanderbloemen have yet to turn in their nomination papers but they are gathering signatures to complete the process.

"We expect Mecum to start ramping up a little," Rasmussen said. "They're probably going to add 10,000 square feet of office space in the existing building, which will push their car storage out. They might build a 50,000 to 80,000 square foot building for detailing and warehousing."

Mecum Auctions operates on the southern end of the village along Highway 14. If the business completes its expansion projects, Rasmussen has additional plans for the village.

"If Mecum builds that building, we'd like to get a road from Onvoy to Highway 14," he said. "That gets trucks off Beloit Street that runs right past the school on one side. Beloit Street would become a purely residential street."

Because this area is in the village's tax increment financing (TIF) district, revenue from Mecum construction projects would go back to developing the area.

However, the village has anticipated action from Mecum for a year.

"Mecum likes to go at their own pace," Rasmussen said. "We can't tell them what to do."

Along with the potential expansion, Mecum may buy additional land surrounding the company.

"We're having an appraisal done on acreage that is right next to them that they want to buy from us," Rasmussen said.

He also said the company is considering buying an existing subdivision, Windmill Prairie, for expansion.

"It's one of these big, almost completed subdivision," Rasmussen said. "We estimate that there is $1 million in improvements left (to build). There is probably $3 or $4 million in the ground."

The roads along the subdivision could be made private, to ease restrictions on future builders.

Village roads

Rasmussen disagrees with the Regional News for picking the Highway 14 rerouting issue as a top story for 2012. He said the issue lacks timeliness, and the village has little control over it.

The DOT bureaucracy has policies in place, and Rasmussen said it's separate from political decision making processes.

"To think that even if your politicians wanted to do something for you in a little village way on the outskirts of their district, whether or not they could," he said.

It may take the state years to finalize plans for the highway, but other roads within the village will continue to see improvements.

"We'll be paving two roads this year," Rasmussen said. "We didn't pave any last year because our road budget was so tight."

Weber and Park streets will be repaved this year, and the village plans to continue a road improvement cycle.

"Even if you're on one of the bad roads, at least you know they'll get done eventually," he said. "We're pretty good at that. We're doing that and staying within budget."

Other issues

"I'm very happy with the budget this year," Rasmussen said. "We didn't increase our levy at all... Financially I don't think I see anything on the horizon as a threat."

Because of the village's stable budget, the plan commission may deal with several issues.

"There will be a lot of discussion on the library," Rasmussen said. "We have to have a consensus on what people want to do."

Plans include possibly moving the library, but those are just ideas, according to Rasmussen.

"What's the price going to be? How many square feet do we need?" he said. "I don't know that I would want to sell the library building (if it did move). It would be very hard to purchase it back if we wanted it for storage or something else."

The building could be used for additional storage or village hall space, if needed.

"The parking problem comes back," Rasmussen said. "These are just ideas... but I don't think we would sell it because we wouldn't do that well (financially) on it."

Election and governance

As president, Rasmussen said people think he holds more power over the village.

"It's exaggerated to think that (the president has) that much more power than a trustee," he said. "You're just called on a lot more for things that come up quickly."

Rasmussen said he doesn't want to control everything.

"There are things like (the Dynamite Club concerns) that you don't micromanage," he said. "If you don't micromanage, your committee system works better. Our committee system works very well. I would recommend our committee structure to anyone in a comparable-size village." As of right now, he's running unopposed for the position and won't have to campaign.

"I think most people are burned out on political issues entirely," Rasmussen said. "If you constantly bombard the public with multiple issues, people get burned out."

If someone else decided to run, he said he doesn't have any record-making goals.

"I have no intention of continuing as village president to try to set some kind of state record," he said.