Practically Speaking

Kyle and her husband moved to Brookfield in 1986. She became active in local politics and started blogging in 2004. Her focus is primarily on local issues but often includes state and national topics, too. Kyle looks at things from the taxpayers' perspective in a creative, yet down to earth way, addressing them from a practical point of view.

Will the real Rick Owen please stand up?

City of Brookfield, Development, Elections

Remember the old TV game show, To Tell the Truth? The panel of celebrities was to guess which of the 3 contestants was the real person who had done some unusual or heroic act. One of the 3 was the real person, the other 2 would try to mislead the panel. At the end, the game host would say, Would the real So-in-so, please stand up. Then the real person would stand, sometimes surprising everyone.

Well, after reading Development tops list for candidates , I almost felt like saying, Would the Real Rick Owen, please stand up? Did anyone of you share my dismay over the paragraph from that article?

Owen said he "never likes to see roads widened" because of the impact it has on homeowners, but added that current traffic volumes along the northern section of Calhoun Road indicate that widening "needs to be looked at."

Since Rick was not at all supportive of Alderman Jerry Mellone's efforts to protect his district from the impact of widening Calhoun Rd. south to highway proportions (despite its lack of traffic) I thought his statement was surprising.

I had attended the Oct. 3, 2006 Common Council meeting where Alderman Jerry Mellone attempted to sway the Council to either follow the Master Plan or amend it properly, regarding the widening of Calhoun Road south. I felt following or amending the Master Plan was a very important point, and so I urged Brookfield residents to attend with this information.

At that meeting, Mellone pointed out that the 2020 Master Plan and Calhoun Neighborhood South Plan showed the maximum road widths to be 100 foot right of ways, maximum, not the 130 foot width the city proposed.

I remembered Alderman Rick Owen dismissing Jerry's referral at that meeting and so I watched my taped cable broadcast of that meeting again. The following is some of what Mellone and Owen said, transcribed to the best of my ability: (Emphasis added)

Jerry Mellone: My motion is: I want to stop the widening of Calhoun to 130' because it is in conflict with the 2020 Master Plan.

Rick Owen: ...whether or not this was a conflict with the Master Plan...I'll be brief...  ...The real issue is, does the Master Plan preclude a 130' right of way? That is what we are down to. I am not even interested in, ah,... I appreciate the legal expertise we brought to the table, and I also want to state quickly--for those who want to read or look at plenty of information out here--staff has had 3 public hearings... er, a 4th is coming...

(The publics' comments from those Calhoun hearings about widening were negative.)

Rick continues: A lot of questions have been asked. Jerry Mellone put out a lot of information... ...that is not the purpose of this (now) at this point, I will state this: What we often say at the Planning Commission is that the Master Plan is the view from the 30,000 foot level. It is not meant to be this extremely detail minded prescriptive plan that says nothing can happen if  X or Y. It is much broader in scale.

Although I want to make sure you understand transportation was not considered a small detail in the Master Plan, I think everybody has seen that chapter. I believe more pages are devoted to (transportation) than any other subject in the Master Plan because people wanted at least to get that information out and make sure we were clear as to what was going on.

So I think there is a tremendous amount of data there and I think we have to look at it piece by piece.. I'll be quick...1st, Looking at section noted: pp 40, fig. 27. That is a series of 5 figures that denote: 2020 Master Plan Typical Section. Typical Street Sections, that was the emphasis here. You have to read the explanation about the diagram as far as there is no plan from 30,000' level that would be that specific and nothing in detail precluding this would suggest the maximum road width would be 130' for any roadway in this city.

(Rick goes on in his brief comments. Now he brings up the key transportation plan, The Calhoun South Neighborhood Plan.)

Rick goes on: Calhoun is stated to have a divided 4 section maximum.  (Reading:) Where Calhoun approaches I-94 or Bluemound, additional lanes may be warranted or provided to permit left or right turning movement. (Rick concludes), We are not inconsistent with the Master Plan.

Jerry Mellone cites again the specifics of the 2020 Master Plan:

Jerry Mellone: Figure 21 shows a 90' right of way, pp 40,41, and 42 shows maximum 100' right of way at Greenfield (Jerry explains that is what we have now, we measured it)... ...Arterial B Calhoun: pp 41, maximum right of way, 75' Twiddle Lane. It is very clear the plan the 2020 task force wanted.

Those Figures and page references seemed pretty specific to me. If they are to be treated so generally, it makes me wonder why anyone would waste their time on a Master Plan or Neighborhood Plan Task Force.  If this very residential arterial was intended to be 130' right of way, I wonder why the city had to obtain so much residential frontage.

Rick Owen was elected before I followed Brookfield politics. If memory serves me correctly, I think he ran on a more responsible development platform--staying within current zoning. Remember, the 2004 election was just after the approval of VK's mega Capitol Heights project*--development was a hot issue in the 2nd district. Maybe some of you 2nd district residents can fill in the blanks here?

Alderman (and Plan Commission member) Rick Owen is being challenged by Plan Commission member Jennifer Donze and by Terry Halmstad. I happen to agree with Halmstad's comments that, "We're not really looking at these [development and redevelopment] (projects) really hard before they're passed."

Of course, on Tuesday, Feb. 19th, it will be up to 2nd district voters to decide, Who is the real Rick Owen?

Check the Brookfieldnow District 1 and 2 Voter's Guide for primary election candidates stances on important issues. 

*Capitol Heights is VK's overly dense condo project on Capitol Drive that former aldermen 1st district Richard Brunner and 7th district Tom Schellinger now say they regret voting for.

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Blogs: Brookfield7, Fairlyconservative

Links: Betterbrookfield Vicki Mckenna 

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