On a vote of 6 – 2, the West Bend Common Council approved accepting a $75,000 surety from the Business Improvement District to save the pedestrian bridge the extends from the back of the West Bend Theatre over the Milwaukee River.
The two dissenting votes were from Dist. 1 alderman John Butschlick and Dist. 8 alderman Roger Kist.
“I represent taxpayers in my district and the groups I’ve spoken to don’t think it makes much sense to save that bridge,” Kist said.
Prior to the vote Mayor Kraig Sadownikow laid out background information related to the efforts to refurbish the theatre bridge.
Sadownikow felt, the mood from past meetings was many were “in favor of maintaining the bridge should no taxpayer money be at risk.”
After meeting with stakeholders, which included the West Bend Cultural Alliance, the organization leading the charge to save the bridge and rehab the theatre, Sadownikow felt the city was safe to move ahead with the project.
Sadownikow did outline seven bullet points for clarification.
- Ownership of the bridge – for the short term the bridge will be owned by the city. The mayor acknowledged future ownership could change
- Maintenance of the bridge – an agreement with the BID is being sought.
- Public bid process vs. a negotiated bid – the project will be designed, built and bid as a public project subject to prevailing wage rates if the project exceeds $100,000
- BID dollars – they are public dollars or tax dollars and have to be spent under public money requirements
- What if BID dissolves – If the bridge has to come down but the BID dissolves itself, who is responsible. The city attorney said the BID can not legally dissolve until all financial obligations are satisfied.
- What the project entails – Project will consist of remodeling of the bridge and the western corridor that leads to Main Street. Also included are lighting, paint and security.
- BID still looking to move forward – Surety has been signed and BID agrees to move forward.
Dist. 3 alderman Ed Duquaine did ask a question about fundraising to help maintain the bridge and move the project forward. Kevin Zimmer, part of the group working on the bridge/theatre project, said, “Your vote here tonight is the only thing really holding the Cultural Alliance back.”
On that note, the vote was held and the effort to save the theatre bridge from demolition passed.
The West Bend Cultural Alliance is meeting in the coming week as it works on an open house at the West Bend Theatre and moves forward with plans to revamp the theatre and possibly buy the bridge from the city.
Pictured are Gene Eggert from Architectural Designs Inc. in Delafield and Mark Pfaller from Pfaller Architectural Associates as they look over the interior of the West Bend Theatre. The pair made clear in September, in order for the theatre to be rehabbed it was critical the bridge over the Milwaukee River be saved.