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St. Croix County Board receives land report

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After months of meetings, a consultant recommended last week that St. Croix County hold on to the northern quadrants of the Government Center property and look at marketing the southern quadrants.

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Dennis Welsch of Barsness Consulting Services said his company is suggesting that the county keep 47 acres for county operations and future expansion and convert 35 acres to new uses and public infrastructure improvements.

Welsch gave his report during the County Board's May meeting, one of the few held in the evening. It was after 10 p.m. when he finished and supervisors were disinclined to discuss the issue then.

Supervisor Ron Raymond, Town of Hudson, noted that the hour was late and the subject is important. He asked that the Board spend a couple of hours on the issue at a future meeting.

Welsch suggested the southwestern quadrant is suitable for public or semi-public uses, such as expansion of the YMCA or Hudson city services; for private or public office buildings; and for senior or affordable housing.

He recommended that the southeast quadrant would be a suitable location for a new library and private or public offices. He said the county could charge a "reservation" fee for potential public or semi-public users who want to secure a site while they raise funds.

Developing the southern sections for the recommended uses would require rezoning by the city, said Welsch.

He reported that seven major themes emerged during the information-gathering period:

• Participants want the county to retain space for expansion of county services.

"We heard this again and again and again -- whether it was from businesspeople or from the neighbors next door," said Welsch.

• Preservation of green space, high quality design and good project planning are important.

• Using the property for public facilities -- such as the YMCA, library, fire or police stations, pathways and meeting space -- is valued.

• The motives of private sector developers are suspect.

• There is concern over traffic and safety issues at the Carmichael and Vine intersection.

• There is little support from the public for more retail or strip mall development.

• Those who offered input questioned the advisability of using the site for residential development.

For more detail on the Barsness report and summaries of information meetings, go to www.co.saint-croix.wi.us/ and click on "Government center plan for a plan."

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