Discussion between the Waupaca County Highway Department and city of Waupaca Public Works Department about a joint facility study has come to an end.
“They feel right now is not the time to do something as large as this. With the financial constraints of the county, they just don’t feel it’s the right time to do that,” County Highway Commissioner Dean Steingraber said of the county Highway Committee’s decision.
The committee’s vote to do so took place on Oct. 19.
On Nov. 16, John Edlebeck, Waupaca’s director of public works, was invited to a meeting of the highway commission and told about the committee’s decision.
Edlebeck then shared the information with the city’s Board of Public Works during its Dec. 5 meeting.
“In talking to the mayor, we will be moving forward with our own planning,” Edlebeck told the board.
Ald. Paul Hagen, chairman of the city’s Board of Public Works, called the highway committee’s action “very odd since they purchased the land for it.”
He was referring to the 40 acres of property the county owns on County Trunk A, south of U.S. Highway 10 and South Appletree Lane.
Hagen said the committee’s decision “is extremely disappointing.”
Discussion between the city’s Public Works Department and county’s Highway Department about the possibility of a joint facility began in 2009.
In 2010, the city and county commissioned a Space Needs and Joint Feasibility Study by Bucher, Willis and Ratliff Corp.
That study identified an estimated $3,2 savings in construction, as well as annual operational savings with the construction and operation of a joint facility, Edlebeck said.
He said that over the course of 2012, numerous city public works and county highway department staff evaluated all operational functions and identified possible joint operations.
“It’s hard to say ‘Stop.’ We put time into it,” Steingraber said of the study. “But, the feeling is the county is not in a position financially.”
He said members of the Highway Committee are in tune to what they are hearing and wanted to get their decision out to Edlebeck.
“The city public works is at several different sites,” Steingraber said. “We’re in one location at least. It might not be a modern facility, but we’re in a better sitution than the city is. The Highway Committee didn’t want to hold back the city if it’s ready.”
In regard to the 40 acres the county owns, he said, “We will definitely hold on to it. Maybe down the road, we will do something. But, right now, we just feel is not the time to look at building and spending money on a design.”
Steingraber said the county purchased the property just before the State Highway 22/54 bypass opened.
“The economy was different then. We were concerned that area would be a hot spot for development and thought we would get ahead of it. The piece of land is a good investment,” he said. “Right now, we are renting it to a local farmer and getting some revenue off of it. We’re not going to sell it.”
Edlbeck wants the highway commission and County Board to put the decision on record so there are no future questions about it.
Steingraber said the decision will probably be taken to a meeting of the county department heads to inform them. “I will let the County Board know,” he said.