MEQUON — Last
Tuesday’s Mequon Common Council meeting was supposed to be the line
in the sand when the fate of the Logemann Center would be decided.
With 11 p.m. in
the rear-view mirror and the discussion still in full swing, action
got shelved again as Mayor Dan Abendroth broke a 4-4 tie vote in
favor of tabling the matter until November.
The crux of the
issue is whether to sell the closed community center and allow
construction of the Backwoods Pub & Grill or use the space for
A parking study
that cost the city $58,238 says the restaurant will add to
already-tight parking in the first phase of the Mequon Town Center.
However, former Alderman John Leszcynski, who wants to build the
restaurant, claims there are numerous flaws in the study. With some
minor modifications, there will be sufficient parking for everyone,
The issue took
a further twist with the addition of a second offer to purchase. The
Lokre Companies, which now owns the Town Center, said its “purchase
price” involves spending $200,000 to remove the building “and to
install a new parking lot on the property.” Lokre’s offer to
purchase was delivered to the city the day before the Oct. 10 Common
city staff put steps in place at its Sept. 12 meeting to decide on
Logemann. Lesczynski submitted an offer for the building and
property that involved spending $110,000 for projects on and
adjacent to the property.
the Common Council focused on parking. Lesczynski and his wife,
Laura, provided a detailed assessment that questioned conclusions in
the parking study. He said there will be sufficient parking for the
Town Center’s customers and employees, as well as for his
He told the
News Graphic Monday that at the peak time measured by the parking
study – 6:30 p.m. on the first Friday in June – there were 226 cars
in the Town Center, City Hall and Logemann parking lots. He said
with a proposed parking lot redesign by the city, there still would
have been 89 vacant parking spots at that time.
“The simple step
of redesigning one city lot pretty much solves the problem,” he
additional steps of relocating where city employees park, counting
12 spots in a Town Center parking lot that are intended for public
parking and his plan to lease 20 spots across Mequon Road for
Backwoods employees would provide even more parking.
owner of Café Hollander in the Town Center, told aldermen that
adding the restaurant “will stress out our parking lot to the point
restaurant in this location will be a disaster for us,” said Eric
Wagner. “We are doing OK and I think we will continue to do OK.
Putting this restaurant here, I think, will be devastating. I will
tell you there will be closures in the Town Center if this happens.”
Wagner said he
has been involved in about 20 restaurants; most have been
successful. He called plans for the additional restaurant “quite
frankly, mind-blowing to me.”
He said his
company “fully supports” the Lokre offer. “We also will be putting
our money where our mouth is and we’ll be contributing to the
parking as well,” he said.
was not on the agenda; the Common Council did not discuss it. Kim
Tollefson, Mequon’s director of Community Development, mentioned it
in opening remarks. In addition to Wagner, Victor Anderson, a broker
with Plover-based Lokre, spoke briefly during a time set aside for
comments from the public. It’s likely the Lesczynski and Lokre
offers both will be on November’s Common Council agenda.
Fischer, owner of Fischer Family Chiropractic, also spoke. He said
he has experienced parking problems since his business opened in the
Mequon Town Center more than two years ago.
expressed concern about parking. Many patients have stopped
treatment because finding a parking spot has taken too long,” he
said. “I don’t see how a new restaurant will help keep businesses in
business in the Town Center. I’ve already seen a business leave and
I’ve heard other businesses are looking at their options.”
came down on both sides.
Wirth said he started off as a proponent of Backwoods – “I think it
would have been a nice project.” – but has changed his mind.
“We have to look
at this dispassionately,” he said. “What this does is preclude
solutions for the problem we already have. It’s not that there isn’t
enough parking for Backwoods Pub, it’s that there isn’t enough
parking for Backwoods Pub and solving the problems we have now.”
Gierl countered that the Logemann lot rarely is used.
“There is enough
parking. This restaurant will be successful,” he said. “We’re coming
up with reasons for it not to be successful. I think the whole thing
is just a mess across the board.”
He added that
Lesczynski “poked legitimate holes” in the parking study.
“I am going to
vote for it,” he said. “It will be good for the city – and it will
be an outstanding addition.”
The mayor said
there is more to consider than just parking.
“There are a lot
of financial considerations, the ability to control the future
assignment of this property,” Abendroth said. “If they buy that
property, they can do whatever they want there. If they want to
build a Backwoods Pub, there are a lot of places in this community
where they can do this; it doesn’t have to be there.”
<<EARLIER: Backwoods restaurant decision likely