MEQUON – The common council will have two proposals to weigh for the future of the Logemann Center.
Those options? Tear down the building as part of an overhaul of the civic campus, or preserve part of the building as a restaurant.
Meeting as a committee of the whole on Tuesday, Feb. 28, several members said they'd like to see both projects, if possible. But if they have to choose, they showed a preference for the latter idea, by voting 5-2 for a resolution that would give developer John Leszczynski demolition rights to the Logemann Center. Ald. John Hawkins included language "that allows the Foxwood Venture people to continue" trying to assemble their plan.
Foxwood Venture, a group of local business leaders, proposed a plan featuring conversion of the baseball field to make it usable for music concerts and other summer events and for ice skating in the winter, and updating the swimming pool. Its representatives, John Graham of JG Ventures and Jim Glassford of Fromm Pet Food, estimated their plan could cost from $4.2 million to $7.1 million.
"We have a very good start to answer the funding problem," Graham said, including an anonymous "seven-figure donor."
Leszczynski proposed to establish a "family-friendly establishment on the site called Backwoods Pub and Grill.”
"Up until tonight, we were presented with an either/or option," Hawkins said. "I'm looking at this as win/win proposals. I hope we can accommodate both proposals, with modifications."
Leszczynski said his proposal only needs an acre of land, so "it doesn't have to be exclusively one or the other."
But when Mayor Dan Abendroth asked Graham if Foxwood was willing to continue pursuing its plans under the dual option, he replied, "I think we'd have to discuss it."
Either way, or with a dual option, "we're taking a fallow piece of property and turning it into something useful," said Ald. John Wirth. He voiced a preference for the restaurant proposal, saying "we have a real plan, that won't cost us any money" and can be implemented quickly. "I like the Foxwood Venture plan, but it's only a concept plan."
Ald. Mark Gierl voiced fear the Foxwood plan would add to a parking crunch in the area. At the nearby Town Center development, "the problem with Café Hollander is that people park there for two and a half hours," he said.
With park improvements, "people swim; they're going to be there all day," Gierl said. "Same with ice skating. These aren't people who are going to be coming 15 or 30 minutes to get a haircut."
Aldermen Andrew Nerbun and Connie Pukaite cast no votes.
"If we have citizens willing to step up, we need to support that," Pukaite said.
Nerbun said afterwards that "I fear trying to combine (both proposals) will scare off Foxwood Ventures."
Several aldermen said the city's pool needs improvements, and Nerbun said the Foxwood plan might allow the city avoid the need to borrow for those upgrades.
City Attorney Brian Sajdak stressed that before any proposal receives final approval, "a formal offer will be negotiated and presented" to the council.