Abendroth to veto Logemann sale
Mayor says it’s unwise to sell off city assets

By Gary Achterberg - News Graphic Staff

Nov. 16, 2017

 The Logemann Center accommodates overflow parking from lots that are
filled at the Town Center and elsewhere.
News Graphic file photo

MEQUON — Mequon Mayor Dan Abendroth said Wednesday he will veto action taken by the Mequon Common Council to approve a contract to sell the Logemann Center property for a restaurant.

“I was looking at the rules this morning and I’m going to go to City Hall this afternoon and write something up” to veto the Logemann sale, the mayor told the News Graphic.

The Common Council Tuesday re-visited the long-running saga over the future of the Logemann property. After about 90 minutes of debate, aldermen voted 5-3 to approve the contract to sell the site to developer John Leszcynski.

Prior to taking the final vote, aldermen made clear that the Common Council will get the final say on the project, particularly as it relates to available parking. They required it returns to the Common Council for review after the Planning Commission approves the site plan.

However, that may all be for naught.

 “We can’t wait until our neighbors and friends are having a beverage, watching a Homestead baseball game on one of our outdoor balconies or enjoying the great view from our beer garden,” he said.

“City staff, the Common Council and I have spent a ton of energy and almost a year and a half finding consensus on how to make this restaurant work,” he added. “I know the mayor has other ideas for this property, but I hope the Common Council’s vote – which is ultimately the people’s vote – is honored.”

 The once-thriving Logemann Center has been vacant since June 2016.
News Graphic file photo

The city received a second offer to purchase the property in October from Lokre Companies, which now owns the first phase of the Mequon Town Center.

Its “purchase price” involves spending $200,000 to remove the Logemann building and adding additional parking on the site. That offer was on Monday’s agenda, but aldermen voted unanimously to table it after the 5-3 vote to approve the Leszcynski contract.

Kim Tollefson, the city’s director of Economic Development, told aldermen there is “a deficiency in parking spaces” in the vicinity of the proposed restaurant. Those numbers differ under Leszcynski’s offer to purchase and the city’s counter-offer. Potential parking in the area also depends on whether the city decides to add spots adjacent to the Ozaukee Interurban Trail, as has been suggested.

Tollefson provided several ranges of numbers related to the “deficiency.” In the best scenario, the area would be 37 spots short; in the worst scenario, 107.

Leszcynski has put significant effort into parking counts in the area and reviewing a parking study commissioned by the city. He proposes leasing 20 spots near the grocery store across Mequon Road to accommodate employees. He has argued there are flaws in the parking study commissioned by the city and there is sufficient parking for his development.

That study, which cost $58,238, concluded that the proposed restaurant will add to already-tight parking in the first phase of the Mequon Town Center.

Alderman Mark Gierl, who has strongly supported Leszcynski and his restaurant plans throughout the months-long discussion, said the parking lot at the now-closed recreation center is hardly ever used by people going elsewhere in the Town Center.

“The employees don’t want to park there, patrons don’t want to park there – the lot’s empty,” he said. “People who park over there are going to be people who park at Leszcynski’s restaurant. And, I don’t know what kind of parking study is going to tell me any different. Seeing is believing.”

Alderman Rob Strzelczyk said parking drove his decision to vote no.

“We’re trying to put something too big in a space that’s too small, according to a parking study we paid for,” he said.

Wirth said during the debate that he doesn’t believe there is a clear opinion in the community related to whether to build the restaurant. He said he typically gets a handful of emails on either side of the issue prior to every meeting at which the proposal has come up.

“I think if it would work, it would be a great thing there,” he said. “But I don’t think we should exacerbate the problem.”

The mayor urged aldermen to look 10 or 20 years down the road when the site may no longer house a restaurant.

“We should not be selling that land,” Abendroth told a reporter Tuesday. “We should not sell public land in the civic center to a private entity. Long-term, that’s just going to bite us.”

State law says the mayor has five days to veto the resolution after it is submitted to him by the City Clerk for approval. Once it is vetoed, the Common Council likely will take it up at its December meeting. The votes of six of the eight aldermen are needed to override the veto, said City Attorney Brian Sajdak.

The resolution passed Monday with the somewhat-unexpected vote of John Wirth, who has spoken against the plans in the past.

“I voted yes so that parking would be looked at by the Planning Commission, which is a less political body,” Wirth said after the meeting. “My belief is there is not enough parking, but I could be proven wrong.”

Leszcynski said late Wednesday afternoon that he is excited over the opportunity to serve the community with a sports-themed family friendly restaurant.