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Bell tower gets ringing endorsement in City of Pewaukee

Jan. 9, 2013

City of Pewaukee - A changeringing bell tower got a nod of approval from the Common Council on Monday.

"I know that Mr. (Roland) Perschon, I believe, has been waiting for a long time for these bells, and I'd like to see it done. I think it's a great idea," said Kathy Novack.

"The Plan Commission even bought into the idea that instead of building the whole structure, with the classrooms and everything else, to looking at if there's a desire of coming up with a way of putting up just the framework and a roof over these bells . (It's) having them put up quicker that way because they wouldn't have to raise that much money (right away)," Mayor Scott Klein said.

Perschon, 84, donated the bells back in 1995, and has been waiting ever since to see them installed. Since then support has come and gone. First, the Village Board earmarked $65,000 for it but apparently took it back after costs climbed and private donors were hard to find. Waukesha County Technical College apparently expressed some interest in the project for a while. Finally, Foundations Bank in Pewaukee backed the project in 2010, but withdrew after a series of financial losses.

An independent committee, Bell Tower Memorial Inc., has been working with the commission to get the project off the ground. The committee has hired an architectural firm to design the structure, which is proposed to be three stories high and adjacent to the Pilgrims Rest Cemetery on Busse Road. The first floor would be set aside for displays and education. The site would be surrounded by a garden, where donors could purchase bricks. The facility would also serve as a veterans memorial.

The group has been invited to return and submit a written proposal for the bell tower and plans for the land.

The city would support the project by providing the land and maintaining it. City Planner Harlen Clinkenbeard said that the city already cuts the grass, so it would be an easy thing to do.

"It's beautiful bell ringing; it's not a carol. They don't play music as such, they play mathematical models, and there's hundreds of them. It's really beautiful if you hear them for a distance - and on a windy day, you'd hear them from a distance," Clinkenbeard said.

The land would be either leased or sold to Bell Tower Inc., and the way the agreement is worded, both options will remain on the table at Bell Tower Inc.'s discretion. The city could sell the land as a formality and charge the group $1 for it, Klein said.

Clinkenbeard also noted that when the committee owns the land it could use it as collateral toward a loan.

Alderwoman Colleen Brown expressed some concern over the city's potential liability in the memorial, but Klein said that it would be no different from any other park the city already owns.

The Council voted unanimously to support the bell tower and offer the use of the land.

*Bell Tower Memorial Inc. has gotten a nod of approval by the City of Pewaukee. Pictured above is the proposed concept for the bell tower, which will be located on Busse Road at the top of Pilgrims Rest Cemetery. Images provided by the City of Pewaukee.


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