Council pledges financial support for railroad rejuvenation

by Jeff Pederson

The Sheboygan Falls Common Council made its financial commitment to the restoration of the Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls rail line official as it pledged $250,000 to the project, during a semimonthly meeting Tuesday, June 21, at the City Hall Municipal Building.

The $250,000 pledge is part of the $2 million local contribution required for the $15 million project, which will serve several existing business in Plymouth and Sheboygan Falls, as well as aid future industrial growth in both cities.

The state has already allocated $12 million for the restoration of the 11-mile line, which it purchased last year and will lease to the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad to operate.

Local officials hope the remaining $1 million will be covered by a Transportation Economic Assistance (TEA) grant through the state Department of Transportation.

Sheboygan County Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Patrick Drinan attended the meeting to discuss the status of the TEA grant application.

“We are in the process of putting the finish touches on the TEA grant application,” Drinan said. “We will be submitting the application to the state DOT very soon.

“We are also in the process of formalizing the required 20-percent local funding match commitments from the county, municipalities like Sheboygan Falls and Plymouth, as well as local businesses. I’m not sure of the exact time frames for the grant approval process, but I can say that if everything goes through and is approved, no expenditures will be made on the project until 2012.”

In addition to the $250,000 financial commitment from the city of Sheboygan Falls and the $400,000 commitment from the city of Plymouth, Sheboygan County has also pledged $100,000 to the project.

Other financial commitments have been made by Wisconsin and Southern Railroad ($850,000), Bemis Manufacturing Co. ($200,000) Kettle Lakes Cooperative ($100,000), Glacier Transit and Storage ($40,000), Service One Corp. ($20,000), King Structures Inc. ($20,000) and Morrelle Transfer and Warehouse ($20,00).

“The rejuvenation of this rail line has been a long time coming,” Economic Development Committee Chair Terry Van Engen said in introducing the motion to the Common Council.

“Our intention is to amend our TIF district to pay for the $250,000 contribution,” Sheboygan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer said.

In other business, the Council approved the purchase of two Toro diesel-fueled, liquid-cooled, reardischarge, zero-turn lawn mowers from Reinders Inc. at a total cost not to exceed $36,400, as well as a John Deere ball diamond rake from Riesterer and Schnell at a cost not to exceed $6,500.

During a preceding City Services Committee meeting, the Council instructed Department of Public Works Director Mike Mersberger to seek a lower price for the rake.

Alderman Randy Messner and Alderwoman Anne Krauter each expressed reservations in spending $6,500 for the rake.

Meyer also hesitated to support the purchase of the ball diamond rake.

“I understand the need to replace our lawn mowers and go with Toro, because they make high-quality equipment that is likely to last for a long time.

“However, I’m kind of on the fence about the rake dragging machine,” he said. “I would still like to see us find one that costs less than $6,500. I think it is a good idea to have Mike do some checking to see what other deal he might be able to find.”

The council also approved the list of 2011-12 license renewals, including an addendum for the liquor license at Falls Tap.

Under the terms of the amended liquor license agreement, Falls Tap owner Kevin Fetterer will be required to seek approval from the council for each outdoor event in the adjacent parking lot that includes a live band, DJ or party tent.

In addition, Fetterer is required to erect a temporary fence for all outdoor events held in the parking lot area of the Falls Tap property.

The council also approved a one-day beer license for Sheboygan Falls Chamber Main Street’s Ducktona event on Sunday, July 3, at River Park.

An electrical contractors license application was also approved for Denor Electric LLC.

New Sheboygan Falls Chamber-Main Street Executive Director Jeanne Jentsch made an appearance to introduce herself to the council.

Meyer also announced that the city’s garbage pick up schedule will be pushed back by one day next week, due to the Fourth of July holiday on Monday, July 4.

The next Sheboygan Falls Common Council meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 5, at 6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at the City Hall Municipal Building.

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