Sussex Village Hall/library plan under discussion
Sussex — Village trustees were expected to meet behind closed doors Tuesday night to discuss "potential development" of the village hall/library government complex on Main Street, according to a meeting notice posted late last week.
Village Administrator Jeremy Smith acknowledged the discussions may center around a private development proposal that could include both village hall and the Pauline Haass Library.
However, he declined to be more specific about the discussion scheduled for Tuesday night's regularly scheduled village board meeting, which occurs after Sussex Sun publication deadlines.
Other sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, were a bit broader in their characterization of the plan, saying it might link together village hall, the library, the youth center on Silver Spring Drive, the reconstruction of Main Street, and the reconfiguration of the Main Street/Silver Spring Drive intersection.
One knowledgeable source described it as potential "game changer" for redevelopment plans along Main Street, extending from Maple Avenue east to Waukesha Avenue. Plans call for the reconstruction and resurfacing of the road to begin possibly in 2016 or 2017.
Replacing village hall
For about the last five years, elected and appointed village officials have been pondering how to replace an antiquated village hall facility, located in a historic old school building, that, according to one source is, "falling down around us."
At about the same time, there have been discussions about the possible future expansion of the Pauline Haass Libary, which is located adjacent to the village hall, off of Main Street, across the street from the Piggly Wiggly grocery store.
As part of the Main Street reconstruction, village officials also have considered rerouting Silver Spring Drive to eliminate the triangle intersection at Main Street and Silver Spring Drive.
The latest proposal being studied would reroute Silver Spring Drive so it jogs to the north and east, joining Main Street east of the existing intersection. The youth center building at N63 W23626 Silver Spring Drive, which also houses Sussex Outreach Services (SOS) and the food pantry, would have to be razed to make way for the new intersection.
Some village board members have said they hoped some day that the SOS services could become part of village hall.
Improving Main Street
It is unclear how the proposal might improve Main Street where it is intersected on the south by the Wiggly Piggly parking lot entrance and on the north by the boulevard leading to the library and village hall.
It is also unclear how the proposal might impact Weyer Park, which is located north and east of the library and village hall. If both the library were expanded and a new village hall constructed, it is likely more parking would be needed in the complex.
The proposal could be controversial. Some Main Street residents and business owners have expressed concern that reconfiguring the Main Street/Silver Spring intersection could move traffic too fast through the village. Some local historians would prefer to preserve the old school building that is now village hall.
It is also unclear how much longer village officials can legally keep the plan under wraps.
Robert Drepps, attorney for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, said the state's open meetings law allows local governments to meet privately to discuss development proposals if an open discussion of the plan might be detrimental to public interests.
However, he said those closed door meetings should be limited to discussions about negotiating strategies or the cost of land acquisition. He said the details of the proposal should be discussed in open meetings so both the public and other developers are informed.
"If they want support for it, then they need to provide the public with as much information as possible. Besides, how do they know that some other developer might not have a better offer?" he said.
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