February 28, 2023 – West Bend, WI – The church board at Pilgrim Ev. Lutheran Church, 462 Meadowbrook Drive, voted 36-0 to hang onto their 10-acre property on Meadowbrook Drive and decline an offer from the City of West Bend, Wi which expressed an interest in purchasing a 1.9-acre parcel.
Bob Knuth is chairman of the congregation. “We had a voters meeting, and it was voted down, 36 to nothing,” said Knuth. “Everyone voted no.”
Knuth said the church was looking to the future with its decision.
“Who knows what’s going to happen in the future? We don’t have any plans, but financially, there was no reason to sell. There was no interest to have a fire department right behind us,” said Knuth.
It was February 1, 2023, when the story broke about the City of West Bend 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 reads:
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.
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 southeast 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.”
“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 former Chase Bank to the west of the current Station No. 1 is for sale. Kudek was questioned about buying that or 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.
- 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.”
- The city reportedly does own property in the area of Wildwood Road and Albecker Natural Area. There’s no word whether that is now insufficient. Also, the parcel to the south of Steins on Wildwood Road has an ‘Offer Pending’ on the real estate sign. That however, is not a location purchased by the city.
- Several property owners on Highway 33 have reportedly approached the city to offer their land for sale. So far, there’s been no word about any further developments.