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REAL ESTATE | City to approve purchase of Johnson Bus lot for new West Bend Fire Department No. 1

June 13, 2024 – West Bend, Wi – The West Bend Common Council will move into closed session Monday, June 17, 2024 to purchase the Johnson Bus property off Highway 33. The parcel will be used as the new location for Fire Station No. 1.
It was May 17, 2024 when WashingtonCountyInsider.com released details on the new location at 2151 W Washington Street.
Dan Johnson’s family owns the property.
“The city has agreed to honor our wishes to honor the current lease in place with the tenant which is Washington County Taxi/Johnson School Bus, and that lease runs until the end of July 2025,” said Johnson.

That parcel, just to the south of State Highway 33, is 12 acres. Johnson said the city would purchase the entire property.

American Commercial Real Estate
Below is how the item looks on the agenda:
Closed session
22. Entertain a Motion to Adjourn into Closed Session Pursuant to State Statutes Section 19.85(1)(e) Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or bargaining reasons require a closed session. (Offer to Purchase Land for Fire Station #1)
IX. Reconvene into Open Session
23. Approval of Offer to Purchase
Monday’s council meeting begins at 6:30 in the council chambers at City Hall, 1115 S. Main Street. The meeting is open to the public.

Below are stories that were previously published regarding the site selection for the new fire department.

May 20, 2024 – West Bend, Wi – More details are being released regarding the new location for West Bend Fire Station No. 1. On Friday, May 17, 2024, WashingtonCountyInsider.com was first to announce the new location as the Johnson Bus Company property, 2151 W Washington Street.

Owner Dan Johnson said he had been in discussions with the city for the last six months.

Johnson

“We have a handshake deal with the city in place and we will probably finalize the transaction over the next couple of months,” said Johnson. “The city has agreed to honor our wishes to honor the current lease that’s in place with the tenant, which is Washington County Taxi/Johnson School Bus, and that lease runs until the end of July 2025.

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The Johnson family has owned the 12-acre lot since the early 1980s. “My grandfather ran a small Redi-Mix plant there, years and years ago,” said Johnson.

It was when the state shifted the Highway 45 bypass from running through downtown Main Street, west to its current location is when the Johnson’s moved the old Redi-Mix plant but hung onto the property. “We negotiated with the highway department because the state was taking that land and we had to move a couple blocks away,” said Johnson.

Questioned what will happen to the taxi/bus company in July 2025, Johnson said, “The city will take the entire property and the taxi/bus company will have to relocate. We might help them with that and find a place in the industrial park or someplace with overhead garages to accommodate. Or they will find a place on their own; maybe lease something smaller.”

The Common Council will go into closed session on Monday, May 20,2024. The agenda reads:

Closed Session
21. Entertain a Motion to Adjourn into Closed Session Pursuant to State Statutes Section
19.85(1)(e) Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of
public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or
bargaining reasons require a closed session. (Offer to Purchase Land for Fire Station #1)

The city reportedly looked at three different locations including the Kwik Trip lot off Highway 33 and 18th Avenue.  Operational issues, access to Hwy 33, and sharing a driveway with Kwik Trip pushed that location off as an option.

American Commercial Real Estate

Another fire department related issue will be discussed in open session during Monday’s meeting, that involves the Kewaskum Fire Department. The agenda item is below.

Monday’s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.  The meeting is open to the public.

Below is an initial story about the new location for the fire station No. 1 that ran earlier this week.

May 17, 2024 – West Bend, Wi – The West Bend Common Council will move into closed session on Monday, May 20, 2024, to consider an Offer to Purchase Land for Fire Station #1.

The city of West Bend has three fire stations: No. 1 at 325 N. Eighth Avenue, No. 2 at 901 N. River Road, and No. 3 at 2100 S. Main Street. Station No. 1 is about 60 years old; originally the building was home to the fire and police department – West Bend Police Department moved in 1992.

According to fire chief Les Norin the new location has been selected.

Dan Johnson said his family has been in talks with the City of West Bend for the last 6 months and they have a “handshake deal” to sell the Johnson Bus company property just to the east of Highway 45.

“We would finalize the transaction over the next couple of months and the city has agreed to honor our wishes to honor the current lease in place with the tenant which is Washington County Taxi/Johnson School Bus, and that lease runs until the end of July 2025,” said Johnson.

That parcel, just to the south of State Highway 33, is 12 acres. Johnson said the city would purchase the entire property.

Also on the agenda Monday, under Agenda Items for Consideration includes: Memorandum of Understanding Between City of West Bend Fire Department and Village of Kewaskum Fire Department to Pursue Consolidation of Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

Closed Session
21. Entertain a Motion to Adjourn into Closed Session Pursuant to State Statutes Section
19.85(1)(e) Deliberating or negotiating the purchasing of public properties, the investing of
public funds, or conducting other specified public business, whenever competitive or
bargaining reasons require a closed session. (Offer to Purchase Land for Fire Station #1)

Monday’s meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.  The meeting is open to the public.

Below is an article that ran in 2023 regarding the search for a new fire station location.

December 18, 2023 – West Bend, WI – It has been about a year since WashingtonCountyInsider.com ran an article about the City of West Bend looking for a new location for fire station No. 1 on the corner of Hwy 33 and Main Street. What are your guesses about a new location – possibly on Hwy 33, closer to the east of Hwy 45 exit ramp.

 

The city was exploring its options to the west and during the common council’s December 4 meeting the council went into closed session to discuss a possible fire department land purchase.


Another closed session is on tap this evening; the content on the agenda is rather vague but indicates “purchasing public properties” and a “developer’s agreement.”

The City of West Bend is exploring its options regarding plans to build a new fire station near W. Washington Street and 18th Avenue to replace Fire Station 1, on the southeast corner of Eighth Avenue and Highway 33.

A note about a meeting between the city administrator and fire chief Gerald Kudek was published in the January 2023 edition of the Pilgrim Herald by Pilgrim Ev. Lutheran Church, 462 Meadowbrook Drive, in West Bend, WI.

The meeting between the city and Board of Trustees at Pilgrim Ev. Lutheran was reportedly held December 5, 2022. The note in the Pilgrim Herald read:

The West Bend City Administrator and Fire Chief made a presentation to the Board of Trustees (Bob Knuth and Jim Behrens also attended because of their President and Vice President roles) regarding their search for a new location for the downtown fire station, currently located at Main Street and Hwy 33. They have determined that the optimum location is near the junction of Hwy 33 and 18th Street. They are looking at several properties in the area and are asking if the members of Pilgrim would be interested in selling about 1.9 acres of the buildable property that we own along 18th Avenue for the new Fire Department. No action on the request was taken by the Board of Trustees or the Church Council; additional information will be provided to the congregation and a subject for the next Voters’ Meeting.
Treasurers Report – J

The Pilgrim Herald
Pilgrim Evangelical Lutheran Church of the Unaltered Augsburg Confession The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod

The map below shows Pilgrim Ev. Lutheran Church owns a parcel that’s a little over 10 acres. The church building is in the southeast corner of the property. There is a small stream or wetland area to the south (note the blue line in the map). Next door, on the corner is the Walgreens and across the street to the west is McDonald’s and further south is the old Fleet Farm lot, now home to Kwik Trip.

Then Fire Chief Gerald Kudek said this meeting is part of the process as they explore building a new fire station.

“We just look at land that is in a radius of where we need to be in order to give four-minute service (response time) to everybody,” he said. “We thought it was appropriate to do our due diligence first and look at vacant land. Because once vacant land is gone, it’s gone. So, we’re exploring those options first, and then we’ll make that decision if we’re going to build right away or remodel station No. 2.”

The city of West Bend has three fire stations; No. 1 at 325 N. Eighth Avenue, No. 2 at 901 N. River Road, and No. 3 at 2100 S. Main Street.

Kudek said station No. 1 is about 60 years old; prior to the fire department occupying the building it was home to the West Bend Police Department until 1992.

Questioned whether the department has room to grow at its current site on Main and Hwy 33, Kudek said the building mechanicals are not up to par and the location hinders coverage on the west side of town.

“We actually drew a radius of where the potential station would best benefit the population,” said Kudek. ”Our goal is to get everybody within a four-minute response time.”

Calls were place to the Dist. 1 alderman about the location on 18th Avenue and to the West Bend Police and Fire Commission and no one was aware a property search was underway.

“We’re not exactly disclosing any of them (the locations),” said Kudek. “Because some of them would require negotiations and things like that and some we haven’t reached out to yet. We’re just checking them off the list kind of thing.

“We haven’t done anything because we haven’t had any serious talks, or we haven’t entered into negotiations with anybody. It’s strictly looking at this map, looking at the vacant properties inside that circle and just reaching out and saying, would you be interested in selling any vacant property.”

Kudek said they are looking for a 3-acre parcel.

Across the road to the south on 18th Ave. and Hwy 33 is the long vacant lot (with a hill) next to Kwik Trip.

Kudek said that spot does fall “in the circle.”

Kwik Trip/ Fleet Farm gas

“We’re doing our due diligence on every available property in that radius. Some are more viable than others.”

Kudek was unsure of the price tag for the property, or a new building and he had no timeline on the process.

‘We’re just doing our due diligence and trying to work through the process,” he said. “We’re just trying to work our way through that list and we’re starting with the most desirable property and checking them off and moving down from here.”

There was no word what would happen to the current location should the fire department vacate the site. Although parking has been part of the discussion downtown for years, one neighbor wondered if the corner would be turned into a parking ramp.

The Board of Trustees with Pilgrim Ev. Lutheran Church will be voting on the proposal on whether to sell the land to the city. Stay tuned.

Side notes:

Chase Bank

  • The former Chase Bank to the west of the current Station No. 1 was for sale. Kudek was questioned about combining lots and shutting down the one-way street for a larger parcel. He said that location was not in the radius of where they’re looking to improve response times to the west.

Jackson Fire Department

  • One of the parishioners wondered if the new fire station would rival “the Taj Mahal in Jackson.”  Kudek said, “Obviously, they built it for their needs with the police and village hall and all those kinds of things. This will be a standalone fire station.”
  • Jackson fire department

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