Slinger eyes grant money for downtown redevelopment study
Officials hope to use Brownfield Grant funds to aid planning

By Joe VanDeLaarschot

Dec. 5, 2018

A pedestrian crosses Kettle Moraine Drive at Highway 175 in downtown Slinger on Tuesday morning. Village officials are moving ahead on having a consulting firm study the downtown and the possible redevelopment opportunities there.
Joe VanDeLaarschot/Daily News

SLINGER — The village’s participation in the Washington County EPA Brownfield Grant Coalition could aid plans for redevelopment of the downtown area.

The village must still make a formal application to the coalition to use about $27,500 remaining in Slinger’s $40,000 share of the grant money, but they believe it should be just a formality. Each community in the coalition received a $40,000 share of the money.

On Monday, village trustees approved having Vandewalle and Associates, at a cost not to exceed $27,500, work with the village on issues related to downtown redevelopment. Contamination concerns have been raised in the past over some of the property in the downtown area and how redevelopment could proceed there.

“We want them to take a deeper look at the needs and wants for the village’s downtown,” Village Administrator Jessi Balcom said.

The village has already used grant money in the past to aid the cleanup of Brownfield sites and this could be used for doing the same in the downtown. The contract between the village and Vandewalle and Associates contains several objectives including:

■ Conduct a property by property analysis of property conditions and rehabilitation potential.

■ Gather and evaluate information regarding constraints to redevelopment such as topography, utility conditions and locations, easements, soil conditions and access limitations.

■ Meet with area property owners and business owners to determine their thoughts and plans on the future of the downtown. They will also conduct a community visioning session for village residents.

They will draft a redevelopment vision and strategy for the for downtown.

“Through our preparation of the Economic Opportunity Analysis and Comprehensive Plan Update and the work Vandewalle and Associates has already conducted for the village over the last two years, we have gathered a tremendous amount of information and gained significant insight about downtown Slinger,” Balcom said as part of the agreement. “Although general community conversations about the downtown have taken place the time has come to have a focused discussion on the future of the downtown and the village’s role in bringing about redevelopment.”

Vandewalle is expected to begin the work immediately with completion of all tasks expected to take about four months. Work on the effort is expected to be funded entirely by Slinger’s allocation from the Washington County Site Redevelopment Program.

Also Monday night, the Village Board approved renewing a separate contract with Vandewalle and Associates for economic development and planning services — something the firm has already been performing for the village. The cost for those services are not to exceed $60,000 a year, but the costs could be significantly lower because the consultant will be paid by the hour for each project it is assigned by the village.

“Is there a way we could exit the contract if we needed to?” Village Trustee Dean Otte asked.

Balcom said the village could get out of the agreement via a seven-day written notice which is in the agreement. Otte asked the question because he said if Village Planner Marty Marchek decided to retire, the village might want to consider creating a position that combined his duties with those covered in the annual services agreement with Vandewalle.

“We know he (Marchek) has talked about retirement and we’re happy to have him work for us as long as possible, but when he does wish to retire that could be an option,” Otte said.

Otte then asked if the village might consider combining such services with nearby communities, similar to how it shares building inspection services.

Balcom said that discussion had taken place, but a conflict of interest could be possible because of the proximity of the communities involved and the competition between the communities to attract new business.

“That’s something that we have been unable to come up with an answer to,” Balcom said. “Building inspection services are different.”