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Art Sawall proposes Bug Line Recreational Trail reroute

Seeking approval to move trail to north edge of property

Jan. 8, 2013

Village of Sussex - Brookfield entrepreneur Arthur Sawall has purchased - and demolished - the Quality Welding shop at N63 W23369 Main St. in hopes of clearing a path for the relocation of the Bug Line Recreation Trail. By moving the trail he can begin development of multi-use residential and commercial complex on the old Mammoth Springs cannery site at Main Street and Waukesha Avenue.

Sawall purchased the Quality Welding property about two weeks ago and began demolishing the building almost immediately. He said one of the reasons he bought the land is because it provides a potential path for rerouting the Bug Line.

The Bug Line is a county recreational trail on a former railroad right-of-way which extends 11 miles from the Village of Merton east through the Village of Sussex to the Village of Menomonee Falls. The rail right-of-way extends through the center of the cannery once providing transportation for cannery products and supplies.

Sawall wants to move the trail a few hundred feet from the center of his property to the north edge of the property on a sidewalk on the south side of Main Street.

Sawall, in an exclusive interview with the Sussex Sun, said he will propose tofederal, state and county officials that the relocation of the trail would begin north of the Main Street and Waukesha Avenue intersection. The trail would proceed south across the intersection and turn west along the south side of Main Street following a sidewalk on his property.

Near the west edge of his property, the trail would then turn west and south across the Quality Welding - also known as the Machine Shed - property to connect with the trail at an existing location near the center and west edge of his land.

Sawall said he believed that he and village and county officials "are on the same page."

"Everyone agrees on moving the trail. It just a question of how we move it and getting all of the approvals," he said.

Waukesha County officials said they will review Sawall's proposal as soon they receive the plans.

Village Administrator Jeremy Smith said Sawall, village and county officials hope to meet within the next two weeks to discuss various options for moving the trail.

Smith said there are other options to be studied and he will support "whatever plan can get done." Among the other options is a plan that would use village-owned property on the north side of Main Street.

Sawall and village officials want the trail rerouted to clear the way for Sawall's proposed development of apartment buildings, retail shops and possibly some office space on the 10-acre tract of land.

Sawall presented his conceptual plans to the Plan Commission last month. He anticipates developing the site in phases with construction of two of the apartment buildings first. After the apartment buildings are constructed and occupied, Sawall plans construction of retail shops.

The plans include the development of a community courtyard at the intersection of Waukesha Avenue and Main Street which Sawall said could serve as a "gateway entrance" to the village.

He said the courtyard might include a coffee or ice cream shop, and other retail establishments, that serve and compliment the foot and bicycle traffic using the trail.

However, all parties involved concur that rerouting the trail is a complicated process.

The strip of land that comprises the trail as it moves through the center of the former cannery site was purchased with federal and state dollars for recreational purposes. If the recreational purposes are transferred to a different land site, federal and state officials must be reimbursed with real estate of comparable size and value in terms of both dollars and potential recreation value.

The Bielinski Brothers, previous developers of the site, tried unsuccessfully for years to strike an agreement with state and federal officials to transfer the Bug Line off the site onto another nearby location.

Sawall said he is prepared to begin the process again which could take 18 to 24 months.

However, he said construction of the apartment buildings can begin without waiting for the trail to be moved.

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