Van Engen looks to become senior member of Falls Common Council

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

TERRY VAN ENGEN TERRY VAN ENGEN With 11 years of experience under his belt heading into the upcoming spring election, 1st District Alderman Terry Van Engen is preparing to step to the forefront as the longest tenured member of the Sheboygan Falls Common Council.

Van Engen, who is set to run unopposed, has been one of the council’s most outspoken, independent thinkers since Mayor Randy Meyer appointed him to fill the 1st District aldermanic seat in 2005.

The 1986 Sheboygan Falls High School and 2000 University of Wisconsin-Whitewater graduate will be seeking his sixth twoyear term on the council when voters head to the polls on April 5.

“Many years ago I recognized that there was a lack of candidates running for elected positions within city government across the county and I thought it was a shame that people don’t get involved in governing themselves,” Van Engen said. “I believe we all have a civic duty to be involved in our community and each of us can make it a little better place to live if we just give of our time and talents.”

With the impending retirement of longtime 2nd District Alderman Randy Messner after 18 years of service on the council, Van Engen figures to assume the most senior council member title during the upcoming term.

“I will be the longest-tenured council member and have been council president for several years,” Van Engen said. “ I have a strong knowledge of the history of the city and have developed a thorough understanding of the city’s operations. I have excellent leadership and personal skills, and extensive management experience at running financial companies.”

Van Engen, who has served as the present of Collins State Bank since 2009, believes infrastructure additions currently under way at Vision Business Park will help to attract interest from local companies.

“We have been working on developing the infrastructure within this park for several years and it is good to see it happening as we speak,” Van Engen said. “I do believe this will aid in the attraction or retention of local businesses.

“The council and city department managers need to be open minded and receptive to creative and enticing proposals in an effort to attract business development,” he said. “ I have always believed that if we create a buzz of activity in this park that other commercial or residential developments will surface in the nearby areas. City services of water and sewer have been extended to the area and are just waiting for other developments.”

While downtown parking has been a hotly debated topic in the city for several years, Van Engen does not classify it among the city’s main needs.

“I believe that the current level of parking is relatively adequate,” Van Engen said. “It certainly has its’ busy times whereby parking availability is limited, but that can be viewed as good thing and a sign of our vibrant downtown community.

“We have a good share of parking available with a short walk to the community parking lots,” he said. “I would not be in favor of demolishing any tax revenue generating structures to create additional parking spaces.”

Looking to the upcoming twoyear term, Van Engen is hopeful for a seamless transition within the city’s management structure as Shad Tenpas steps in as the new city administrator and Sabrina Dittman assumes the city clerktreasurer position, following the retirement of City Services Director Joel Tauschek later this year.

“The city has seen a large turnover amongst our department heads, along with the even more concerning pending retirement of our city services director,” Van Engen said. “Our council positions have been made really easy over the years because of the performance of our director. The city operates efficiently and as a council we will need to work closely with our new leaders as they grow into their positions.”

Van Engen says electric utilities infrastructure and road maintenance needs will be key topics of discussion for the council during the upcoming term.

“We also have an aging infrastructure as it relates to our electric utility services that are going to be costly to update,” Van Engen said. “I am also concerned about our road maintenance and underlying water and sewer lines. The costs to update each mile of road within the community continues to escalate. We have had to scale back on our program goals of resurfacing or rebuilding about two miles of roads per year in an effort to address all of the city’s roads within the recommended number of years before they completely crumble.”

Van Engen also hopes to extend the lines of communication within the community moving forward.

“I am also concerned that we as city leaders, along with our newly appointed managers, need to improve upon our direct contact with local businesses and employers to hear and react to their concerns and needs,” Van Engen said. “I am confident that our new city structure and the continued leadership from the mayor will improve upon these lines of communication.”

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