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Land swap in North Lake possible for trail

Developer Art Sawall wants to purchase land in North Lake to make up for moving the Bug Line from the center of his Sussex development, Mammoth Springs, now under construction.

Developer Art Sawall wants to purchase land in North Lake to make up for moving the Bug Line from the center of his Sussex development, Mammoth Springs, now under construction. Photo By Scott Ash

Dec. 17, 2013

North Lake — Brookfield computer software entrepreneur Arthur Sawall is interested in helping the Waukesha County Bug Line Recreational trail grow. He is about two purchase two acres of land in North Lake to assist in further development of the trail.

Waukesha County officials say Sawall is in the process of purchasing the land from the Butler family who own land along the former rail bed right of way once used by a tourist steam train.

If Sawall acquires the land, he will turn it over to the county so it can be used in the development of a trailhead to be constructed in 2014 or 2015. The trailhead will be built as part of a proposed expansion of the Bug Line trail west from the Village of Merton.

The approximately 11-mile trail now extends from Menomonee Falls through the Village of Sussex and into the Village of Merton.

In exchange for that land, the county will swap a parcel of land on the trail in the Village of Sussex with Sawall. The land will be used to reroute the Bug Line around Sawall's Mammoth Springs development.

Mammoth Springs is a multiuse residential and retail complex Sawall is building on about 11 acres of land that was the former site of the Mammoth Springs Canning Company at Waukesha Avenue (Highway 74) and Main Street. The trail used to run through the center of the land on right of way that Waukesha County acquired through the state with federal funds.

Federal and state regulations require that for Sawall to move the trail from the center to the outer edge of his property, he needs to swap land with the county that is of equivalent value to the right of way the county owns in the middle of the property.

Sawall earlier this year began implementing the land swap when he purchased an old welding shop next to his development site in Sussex. He intended to give a portion of the land to the county and the village could implement the Bug Line land swap. It would allow the village to relocate Spring Creek.

However, the land had been contaminated by a leak from a buried gasoline tank. The previous owner of the land removed the tank and most of the contaminated soil years ago, according to village officials.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources determined the site was safe as long as the remaining land was not disturbed, according to village and county officials.

However, the land was disturbed when Sawall began construction on his development and the village began excavating the land as part of the Spring Creek relocation, according to village and county officials.

Duane Grimm of Waukesha County Parks and Land Use explained that the land was no longer acceptable for the initial land swap with Sawall because of the remaining residue from the contamination.

Consequently, Sawall began negotiations for the North Lake property in an effort to implement a new land swap.

"I must say the county and the village have been extremely helpful in all aspects and a joy to work with. I only have good things to say about Duanne Grim of Waukesha County and Jeremy Smith of the Village of Sussex," Sawall said in an email to Lake Country Publications.

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