News & Notes: Dec. 28

Dec. 28, 2011

Village expected to finalize Oakland Avenue project

Shorewood - Village officials are expected to finalize a developer's agreement at a Jan. 3 meeting of the Village Board to review details of the LightHorse 4041 project by the Mandel Group.

Excavation work is expected to begin shortly thereafter for a six-story building in Shorewood that will include a new Walgreens, and 84 upper-level apartments. The new building will be constructed west of North Oakland Avenue and south of East Kenmore Place on the parking lot for Nehring's Sendik's grocery store. The new building will relocate Walgreens from its current location across Kenmore Place.

The Mandel Group and RE Enterprises plan to have the Walgreens completed by January 2013, and the apartments by August 2013.

Shorewood will help finance the $35 million, six-story building by providing a $4.1 million grant that will be recovered through property taxes generated from the development over an estimated 18-year period. The village will also provide a $3.5 loan to the developer that will be paid back with revenue generated through rent. To cover those costs, in mid-November, the Village Board approved $8.5 million in general obligation community development bonds for the project, which will include two parking decks.

Pop-up seasonal Stein store being revisited in Bay

Whitefish Bay - After a series of denials, a proposed seasonal Stein Just Plants pop-up store could temporarily take root in the village this spring after all.

The Whitefish Bay Plan Commission last week approved a conditional-use permit for the local garden chain with the caveat the Just Plants operation locate on the premises of a proposed events pad near a village-owned parking lot along Beaumont Avenue.

Village Manager Pat DeGrave and other staff at Village Hall are examining cost scenarios and considered the prospect of tweaking plans.

Villages, NSFD to share phone system

Brown Deer - Brown Deer will join Bayside and the North Shore Fire Department in purchasing a new phone system. Brown Deer last bought one in 1995 and it has been part of the capital budget for a number of years. The cost for the system is $114,000.

Treasurer Bridget Souffrant said that by purchasing the system jointly, Brown Deer gets a top-of-the-line system at roughly one-third the cost, splitting the cost of servers, fiber optics and some support contracts.

Excluding the cost of termination fees for the current system, Souffrant projected monthly savings of $1,096 a month plus an additional savings of $3,250 for the purchase of the system hardware. The existing phone system does not have a back-up, but the new one will have two servers, one in Bayside with a back-up at North Shore Fire Station 1 in Brown Deer.

The price for the system could drop if other North Shore communities decide to buy-in. At least one community is considering a change.

District holding junior kindergarten registration

Fox Point - Registration for incoming junior kindergarten students in the Maple Dale-Indian Hill School District will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Jan. 18 at Indian Hill School, 1101 W. Brown Deer Road.

JK students in the 2012-13 school year must be 4 years old prior to Sept. 1. Proof of age and residency are required. Acceptable forms of identification include a birth certificate and tax or utility bill. Children do not need to accompany parents during the registration.

Parents will be asked to complete a registration form, emergency contact information and immunization dates.

For information, call the Indian Hill office at (414) 351-7390. Arrangements can be made for district parents unable to attend registration.

Consultant reviewing Fox Point-Bayside's benefits

Fox Point - The Fox Point-Bayside School Board on Monday awarded an $18,565 contract to Hays Companies. The firm has been charged with reviewing the district's current level of benefits and making recommendations moving forward.

"This is a critical time for the district to review all employee benefits, strategize and set future goals in alignment with the financial goals of the district," Amy Kohl, director of business services, wrote in a memo. "With decreasing revenues, we must put a plan in place that is sustainable over time, that is attractive to employees and that takes advantage of newer products on the market based on changing workforce values."

Kohl said she and other administrators recommended Hays because of its track record. The firm, she said, has an "innovative approach to looking at benefits packages."

Thiensville board votes to deny use of mural signs

Thiensville - The Thiensville Board of Trustees voted last week to deny a revision to the Village Sign Code, forbidding the use of murals on the sides of buildings. The proposed revision would have allowed businesses to display the banners as a form of advertising.

"The reason we have been considering this is because the Planning Commission asked us to," President Karl Hertz said in response to a suggestion that the approval of murals be left to the Planning Commission. "We can't very well just throw it back at them."

Trustees Ronald Heinritz and Rob Holyoke voted against the denial.

Mequon-Thiensville seeking Hall of Inspiration nominees

Mequon - The Mequon-Thiensville School District is accepting applications for its annual Hall of Inspiration awards program. The initiative recognizes current staff members and Homestead High School graduates who have gone on to make positive contributions.

All residents in Mequon and Thiensville are invited to submit nominations. Forms are available on the district website, The nomination deadline is Jan. 27.

Fire Department gets technology upgrade

Thiensville - The Thiensville Village Board voted last week to approve the purchase of six new computers for the Fire Department, as requested by Fire Chief Brian Reiels.

The total cost with hardware, software and support comes to just over $7,000, which will be paid with funds donated to the Fire Department.

Reiels said that, among other uses, the computers should help streamline day-to-day operations.

"It's going to save me hours and hours of payroll," Reiels told the board.

Reiels said that he has plans for additional upgrades next year.

"Right now (the central database) is residing on a PC," Reiels said. "Right now we have to manually back it up on one PC, so one of the things I put on the budget for next year is a true server for our software."

Trustee Toni Ihler voted against the purchase, saying that although the Fire Department needs the computers, she would rather see the funds come from elsewhere.

"It appears that more often than not, when donations are received from community members, they're usually earmarked for EMS or fire supplies," Ihler said. "Computers are a cost of doing business. I think the donated funds should be used to buy supplies for us to do what we need to do as a department, as opposed to run the business."

Thiensville DPW gets OK to purchase dump/plow truck

Thiensville - The Thiensville Village Board last week approved the approximately $65,000 purchase of a dump and plow truck for the Department of Public Works.

Among other things, the truck will be used for brush and recyclable metal pickup, general hauling and snowplowing, Director of Public Works Andy LaFond said.

After consideration, the DPW staff elected to choose a gasoline engine model over a pricier diesel version.

"With the amount of time and mileage we put on," LaFond said, "we don't get a return on a diesel engine."

"I'm sure the Public Works people will miss seeing the road as they plow," joked Village Administrator Dianne Robertson. "You can see the road go by through the floorboards (of the old truck)."

District participating in teacher evaluation forum

Mequon - Mequon-Thiensville is the latest school district to join a consortium that will provide recommendations on future tools and metrics for teacher evaluations in the aftermath of Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10 legislation. Several administrators and teachers within the district are expected to provide a voice amid the larger discussion.

The School Board approved joining the discussion last week. Currently, 28 school districts are part of the consortium.

Finance assistant gets pay raise approved in Shorewood

Shorewood - The Village Board approved a 50-cent an hour pay increase for the assistant to the finance director at its regular meeting last week, citing the increased responsibility for helping implement a new payroll system.

Cindy Wierzchowski will see her pay increase from $21.15 to $21.65 per hour.

Fox Point-Bayside drafting employee handbook

Fox Point - With the teachers union collective bargaining contract set to expire June 30, Fox Point-Bayside officials have been working to assemble various pieces of the employee handbook. The process has been collaborative, District Administrator Rachel Boechler said at a School Board meeting last week.

"We have solicited the involvement of a representative group of teachers to provide feedback and input on the employee handbook that is under development with a particular focus on teachers," Boechler said.

The process has included voluntary monthly meetings with teachers and "is intended to help reduce the anxiety that some staff members have related to the content of the handbook," Boechler said.

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