Contested race for Fremont Village Board
They are incumbents Per Dobbe, Kathy Gaynor and Randy Hofstetter and challengers Jim Falke, Dewey Tangwall and Steve Van Lyssel.
Dobbe is a Waupaca native who has lived in Fremont seven years. He is a quality engineer at Thyssen-Krupp Waupaca and is seeking his second term on the village board.
"One of the reasons I became a trustee was to work toward building up the downtown commercial district. Fremont has excellent potential of being a four season tourist destination instead of the spring and summer spike currently," he said.
Dobbe said a vibrant commercial district would add economic opportunities while limiting seasonal condo development along the riverfront.
"I believe Fremont could be a mini Minocqua with the assistance of a downtown development grant or TIF (Tax Incremental Financing) district," he said. "I would like to see Fremont stay a village with year round businesses instead of a bedroom community or have seasonal waterfront properties like some other communities in the area."
During the past several years, the slow, no-wake hours on the portion of the Wolf River that runs through the village have been an issue. The hours have changed back and forth as the make-up of the village board has changed.
Last September, the board voted to change the hours back to beginning at midnight on Friday and being in effect until midnight on Sunday.
A year prior to that, the board voted to expand the hours, with the slow, no-wake time period beginning at noon on Friday.
An advisory referendum on the Nov. 4, 2008 ballot asked village residents whether the hours should be expanded. The advisory referendum passed with a vote of 253-153.
Dobbe said the advisory referendum passed without input from business owners who do not live in the village and thus could not vote.
"I originally voted for the reduction of hours, but when the business owners came to multiple meetings advising the board about the reduced Friday traffic and sales, I agreed this was not good timing," he said. "When it affects someones livelihood, there should be a very good reason for change. We should promote responsible boating and encourage people to visit Fremont instead of being prohibitive."
The village put the burden on Waupaca County and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, while many boaters did not know the hours had changed, Dobbe said.
He also says that other municipalities looked to change hours, which would make Friday night travel after work almost impossible, unless traveling in the dark.
"Only a few Fridays have issues - most Fridays are not very busy. The more congested Fridays are before a holiday weekend. Why change the hours for a few days a year that are busier than others? I would propose to request for increased water patrol enforcement
for those few days instead," Dobbe said.
During the summer, some residents complain about the noise from bands playing outside at downtown bars.
When asked how he thinks the village should address that subject, Dobbe said, "Over the past summer season, many board members went to observe the bands with noise meters, taking readings in the middle of the crowd, at lot lines and across the river.
"The opinion of the members was the levels were acceptable, because we were able to hear and talk during the process. A majority of the complaints were received prior to quiet or permit hours.
"When we presented our findings, the complainant parties from across the river took issue. The local residents started to complain about noise from boats, Harleys on the street, and, of course, the bands.
"When asked what would make them happy, the reply was, 'No noise.' The board has asked that speakers be placed in boxes to direct music, toward the crowds at a reasonable level and will continue to push for this solution in the future. A maximum noise level was reviewed but in discussions, we felt it would not stop the complaints.
"All of 2011 the levels were below a mutually agreed upon level, and complaints still were received. Where to take readings, who is qualified to take level readings and will the noise level stay at the same level were some of the issues brought up during our brain-storming session.
"I would encourage a good neighbor policy, if this doesn't satisfy the parties, that they take action without the village involvement. I don't feel the board should determine who has more rights: the residents who want quiet waterfront property or business owners.
Falke is seeking his first term on the village board. He grew up in Weyauwega and has been a village of Fremont homeowner since 1990. He is the kitchen manager at Ted's Grandview Supper Club.
When asked what his short-term vision for the village is, he said, "In this economic climate with tightening budgets, the village board must continually look at ways to save money without cutting services that village residents have come to expect."
His long-term vision for the village is to "Maintain strong fiscal constraints recognizing the importance of entities like the EMS,
fire department and library and make sure we find ways to properly fund them."
In regard to the slow, no-wake hours on the portion of the Wolf River that runs through the village, Falke said, "I think having different slow, no-wake laws between the town of Wolf River, Town of Fremont and Village of Fremont is too confusing to boaters. If there was going to be a change extending the weekend and holiday slow, no-wake, all three municipalities should make the change
Of the complaints the village has received from some residents during past summers about noise, he said. "I believe this should be addressed with a balance between the residents and the businesses. I don't want to see a business operate and disrupt people's lives, but I also don't feel very strict ordinances are the answer.
"Decibel limits at the property line, which was discussed at a board meeting, could disrupt what I think Fremont has always been about. By focusing the noise ordinance on the businesses and the bands on weekends, you are also jeopardizing other organizations such as the
Webfooters Ski Team."
Gaynor is seeking her second term on the village board. Originally from the northern suburbs of Chicago, she is retired after working in human resources for 28 years.
She has had a condo in Fremont for 18 years and became a full-time resident of the village 3 1/2 years ago.
Her short-term vision for the village is that she would like to see the village trustees active in the community, by attending events that take place.
"I think the people put us in. The people need to see us. We need to be approachable," Gaynor said.
Her long-term vision for the vilage is to attract more businesses downtown and to see green space included in the village's Smart Growth plan.
She is happy the village purchased property next to Village Hall, saying that in the future, the police department could move into that space, allowing the library to then be able to expand its space.
When asked what she thinks the slow, no-wake hours should be on the portion of the Wolf River running through the village, Gaynor said, "I think the hours should go back to noon on Friday. It takes 12 1/2 minutes to go through the village with a slow, no-wake."
She said in an advisory referendum in 2008, the majority of residents voted for such hours. Since the board rescinded its vote that had increased the hours, people have approached her, saying they are disappointed, Gaynor said.
"It's frustrating that it's changed with each election," she said. "I would like to see a binding referendum where it wouldn't change."
In regard to past complaints in the summer from some residents about noise, Gaynor said, "I think we should set some decibel readings as a guideline."
She said complaints have not come in just at night; there have also been complaints about noise during the day.
"Right now, you have to have a permit from 9 p.m. to twelve, but there is nothing in place," Gaynor said. "You can get a ticket for having car windows down and music blasting, but there's nothing in place for the bands."
She said the village needs something that will be enforceable.
Hofstetter is seeking his second full term on the village board.
A native of Brookfield, he has been a Fremont resident since late 2001 and is the property manager at the Neenah-Menasha branch of the YMCA of the Fox Cities.
His short-term vision for the village is to continue updating the village's ordinance book, a process that is currently taking place.
"It will result in consistency," Hofstetter said.
When asked what his long-term vision for the village is, he said, "I'd like to bring the little shops back to town. Good paying jobs would be nice."
Hofstetter said that while he has lived in Fremont for 12 years, he first started visiting the village in the 1960s and remembers what the downtown district was like then.
"I'd like to bring back community and family - get them together and downtown. Neighbors needs to be neighbors. I'd like to see a little more compassion in town," he said.
In regard to the slow, no-wake hours on the village's portion of the Wolf River, Hofstetter said, "At a bare minimum, we should back it up to noon on Friday."
He said when someone is driving a vehicle on a highway and gets into a village, the driver has to slow down.
"It should be the same for the river," Hofstetter said. "I can only vote what is best for the village. I don't mind listening to people from other areas. But, why I'm here is because of Fremont."
He said safety has been a concern and that the village should listen to the majority of people who voted in favor or increasing the slow, no-wake hours in the 2008 advisory referendum.
"I would not mind having another referendum on it," Hofstetter said.
When asked how the village should address the complaints it has received from some residents during past summers about noise, he said that he understands that having bands is a way that bars make money. He does not want to stop their income.
However, he said homeowners also have rights.
"We should have clear expectations with the bar owners and work together, try to get the neighborhood and commercial district to get along and understand each others' needs," Hofstetter said.
Tangwall is seeking his first term on the village board. Originally from Rice Lake in northern Wisconsin, he has lived in Fremont since 1971.
He retired in 2010 after teaching in the Weyauwega-Fremont School District for 10 years and then having an insurance agency.
Tangwall was also asked what his short-term and long-term visions are for the village.
"Short-term we should work to preserve the quality of life we enjoy here in Fremont and work to pass that on to future generations. Long-term I see Fremont's residential base expanding as it has on the east side as many new homes have been built over the past several years," he said. "This is positive growth, and I hope it continues and expands to the west side of Fremont. This growth has slowed along with the economy. We should work to attract new businesses to Fremont by looking to see what programs are available."
In regard to the slow, no-wake hours on the portion of the Wolf River that runs through the village, Tangwall said the village asked the voters of Fremont what they wanted in an advisory referendum.
The vote was overwhelmingly in favor of noon Friday to 6 p.m. on Sunday, he said.
"In my contacts with voters this year the numbers are still the same. It is the job of elected officials to represent the voters that put them in office. If this issue comes up, I will vote for the longer (12 hours) extension," Tangwall said.
He said health, safety and conservation issues are answered by the extended hours.
"Two of the three incumbents are in favor of the longer hours. Per Dobbe has voted against the issue two times," Tangwall said.
When asked how the village should address noise complaints from residents, he said, "This issue needs to be addressed. I do not have all the facts on this. It was my understanding that an agreement was made that put limits on the noise. If residents are not satisfied, then we must examine the situation again and come up with a solution."
Van Lyssel is also seeking his first term on the village board. He has lived in the Fremont area his entire life and in the village for about a year.
Last May, he purchased the Bridge Bar & Restaurant. Prior to buying the business, he worked for the previous owners a total of eight years, including about three as the manager. His previous work experience also includes being a financial adviser.
Van Lyssel's short-term vision for the village of Fremont is "to get everybody to find common ground on many of the pertinent issues such as noise, slow, no-wake and budget issues. There is no reason that a solution cannot be found that will appease everyone and be the best for the present and future of the village."
In the long-term, he sees the village being a thriving community on a pristine river system.
"There are not many places that can boast the resources Fremont has. Between fishing, boating, skiing, swimming and snowmobiling, Fremont offers a multitude of activities for residents and tourists to enjoy. Also, being centrally located between several larger cities certainly helps Fremont's cause to be a prosperous village while still maintaining it's 'small-town feel,'" he said.
In regard to the slow, no-wake hours on the portion of the Wolf River running through the village, Van Lyssel said that he believes
those hours should start at midnight Friday and go until Sunday night.
"There is no reason for the hours to be expanded past then as the boat traffic does not warrant it. Some boaters enjoy taking a half-day off on Friday to cruise on up to enjoy an evening in Fremont. Expanding the slow, no-wake to include Friday will prohibit many of these people from having the time to make it up before it gets dark," he said.
While the village can only control the slow, no-wake in its limits, the town of Wolf River has expressed interest to keep its hours in unison with the village, eliminating any confusion, he said.
If the village changed its hours to include Friday, the town of Wolf River might do the same, making the trip to Fremont a lot more time consuming, Van Lyssel said.
"Fremont draws a multitude of boaters from Lake Poygan, Winneconne and Oshkosh that provide a significant boost to the local economy. If the village continues to make Fremont less 'boater friendly,' these boaters will find different places to spend their hard-earned money, thus hurting the economy of the village," he said.
When asked how the village should address residents complaints about noise from bands playing outside of bars, Van Lyssel said, "As a business owner on the Wolf River and a resident, I understand the need to establish a proper balance between having outdoor music and providing an enjoyable environment for all of the village's residents. Outdoor music is critical in helping the downtown bars draw in people in the summer to provide a boost to the local economy.
"I also understand that it can be a nuisance to many residents, especially when multiple bands are playing at the different bars. As the owner of the Bridge Bar, I always try to stay in constant communication with the other bar owners to make sure we do not have bands scheduled at the same time. Also, I believe speaker placement is critical to make sure the music carries as little as possible.
"I also agree that bands should only be allowed to play past 9 p.m. only under special circumstances a few times per summer per bar. This should be done to make sure the music does not disturb residents too late."
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