BID making strides in downtown plan
Meeting room tour points improvement opportunities


Dec. 2, 2015

Patrons walk out of Sal’s Pizzeria near one of the new bike racks on Main Street on Tuesday afternoon in West Bend.
John Ehlke/Daily News

Members of the Downtown Business Improvement District Board toured the heart of West Bend on Tuesday morning without leaving the comfort of the City Council Chambers.

Jackie Kohn of Kunkel Engineering Group acted as tour guide as she figuratively walked the board members along a large map of Main Street pinned to a wall in the council chambers, noting various spots for improvements, such as benches, informational kiosks, dog watering and waste stations, and trash and recycling cans.

Kunkel Engineering also submitted a report to the BID that evaluated the existing infrastructure on Main Street from Walnut Street to East Washington Street, which was determined to be in “fair condition.” It noted the last major reconstruction was in 1980 when the current pavement, walkways and electrical system were installed.

“The pavement shows signs of deterioration in the form of cracking and rutting, indicating need for repair. The brick pavers, functioning as sidewalk and crosswalk, have settled and broken with time, likewise signifying time for replacement,” the report states.

BID Board President Mike Husar, co-owner of Husar’s House of Fine Diamonds, said if everything could be done on the board’s “wish list” it would amount to about $1.5 million.

City Administrator T.J. Justice said outside funding sources should be explored and suggested that some of the “lower ticket items” could be incorporated into the BID’s operating plans over the next few years while looking for additional funding.

Husar said it was his opinion that “not everything is a function of the BID.”

“When replacing curbs and gutters and walkways, you wouldn’t go into a neighborhood and ask the neighbors to pay for it,” Husar said. “I don’t know if in clear conscious, I could say to the BID to come up with $1.5 million when those things are really the responsibility of the city.”

Husar said if the BID wants something like adding color to the pavement, it should be up to the BID to cover the difference in cost for the coloring but the price of infrastructure replacement shouldn’t “be up to just the building owners in downtown to pay for.”

BID board member Herb Tennies said the present condition of the city’s utilities in the downtown worry him.

“Have the underground utilities been looked at so that if all this work is done that Main Street won’t have to be ripped up again because of a problem with the utilities?” Tennies asked.

Justice said the city incurred some unplanned expenses when it revamped Old Settler’s Park on Main Street when some electrical conduits had to be replaced. He recommended planning for contingency funds to be set aside for such incidents.

Justice also suggested the BID take their dream for downtown to the Common Council.

“I think once you get a consensus on the BID board on what exactly you want to do, and you have a plan, it should be presented to the council,” Justice said.

“I commend you for your leadership in getting the concept plans to this point,” Justice told the board members. “Now it’s a matter of doing some public outreach to get people comfortable and cozy with the plan.”

Justice reminded the board “there is no rush here.”

“This plan won’t happen overnight,” Justice said.

Husar said the time is right to work on ideas for improving downtown, even though those ideas may not come to fruition for five or six years.

“Now is the time to start, even if it’s for five years down the road. Because if we don’t begin now, it will be another 10 or 15 years,” Husar said.

The BID board may have the proposed downtown improvements as an action item on the agenda for its February meeting with the intent of taking the plan public through meetings and other means to get feedback during the spring of 2016.

Reach reporter Linda McAlpine at