Kenosha County Finance and Administration Committee gives its approval to various items to improve county parks

parks; finance and administration committee; kenosha county

KENOSHA COUNTY ⸺ Last night, the Kenosha County Finance and Administration Committee moved forward several items benefiting the Pike River restoration project and county parks.

In total, the committee approved four resolutions pertaining to:

  1. Department of Transportation easements in Old Settlers Park in Paddock Lake;
  2. Grant funding for Phase II of the Pike River restoration initiative in Petrifying Springs Park;
  3. 2021 budget changes to Veterans Memorial Park;
  4. And authorizing the Director of Parks to apply for grant funding through the DNR for capital improvements in Veterans Memorial Park.

Committee members approved all four items unanimously after some questioning from Dist. 3 County Supervisor Jeff Gentz. 

DOT easements

According to Kenosha County Parks Director Matthew Collins, the DOT is requesting several easements in Old Settlers Park. 

“The finance committee has seen these in years past for highway construction projects,” Collins told the committee Thursday evening. “This one is in regards to Highway 50 within the village of Paddock Lake and it’s contiguous both on the north and the south sides of Old Settlers Park.”

DOT’s requested easements include:

  1. ¼ acre of highway easement; 
  2. .17 acres of temporary limited easement; 
  3. and .10 acres of permanent limited easement.

The DOT will also pay the county $9,400 for the easements, Collins added.

Members gave their approval on the item without any questions.

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Parks division update on Pike River Restoration Phase II

Funding for the continuation of the county’s Pike River restoration efforts in Pets Park served as the second item before the committee relating to the local resources. 

Collins told the committee that the item comes before the governing body due to a bit of unexpected good news.

“This last winter we were approached by the EPA with very positive news, that they saw a grant application through the DNR. The DNR was not able to financially support this with state funding,” he explained. 

“But they were able to collaborate with the EPA in order to award Kenosha County with a tentative $1 million grant for us to move forward with our Pike restoration initiative within Petrifying Springs.”

Thursday’s resolution authorizes the county’s Parks Division to initiate construction of the second phase of the restoration. That second phase includes approximately “3,280 linear feet of restoration efforts, very similar to what we’ve already accomplished with Phase I, this one’s just a little downstream from where we stopped.”

“So again, this is for the accepting of that grant award, as well as a DNR grant award for $50,000,” he added. “This resolution also authorizes the director of parks to be awarded $300,000 in an additional grant that we are currently seeking.”

The resolution’s language also allows the Parks Division to repurpose $122,000 for the relocation of a pedestrian bridge in the park. 

“That’s critical. Because if anyone has been through Petrifying Springs Park in years past, this playground, Playground No. 4, is constantly flooded with sand and silt going into the Pike River,” Collins said. “With the new pedestrian bridge, we are able to get the playground outside of the floodplain. 

“Which will be advantageous from a maintenance issue (stance), as well as playability for the kids that use that playground.”

Gentz questions playground funds

On the repurposing issue, Gentz asked from where in the budget the division planned to repurpose the funds. 

“That originated with playground equipment funds from 2021,” Collins replied. “We did not use those funds of $122,000. So we are asking the committee this evening for repurposing that playground equipment to be put into this comprehensive Pike River restoration and pedestrian bridge project.”

After receiving Collins’ answer, Gentz further asked why the division had not spent the funds as allocated.

The simple answer: The department needs to relocate the playground first. 

Collins explains restoration funding

However, Gentz pointed out that this will now leave the county in a position to have to later borrow or find another $122,000 to cover the equipment.

“Because we’re using what we had for that for this, now we have to go out and bond for more after the river is corrected,” Gentz said.

Collins called Gentz’ statement “partially correct” before elaborating on the project funding.

“We also kind of used the playground equipment funds from the 2021 budget to be part of the pedestrian bridge project,” Collins said. “That was always intended for this year. So now that we have a comprehensive project between the river, we’re going to actually get better pricing for both projects at the same time in that corridor. 

“So it’s advantageous for us to do both projects this year, and then focus on the actual playground in 2022 ⸺ which will have to be brought forth through the typical budget cycle.”

The division has either bonded for all other costs or grants have funded them, he added. 

“And if I had to summarize, I’d say the majority of the funding for this project is grants.”

The resolution passed unanimously off a motion from Dist. 18 County Supervisor Monica Yuhas. 

Veterans Memorial Park budget

Gentz also had questions on the next item on the agenda: 2021 budget changes for Veterans Memorial Park. 

His questions did not concern the project, mainly, but rather the fund that is supplying half of the financial component of the project: The Park Land Development Fund. 

Collins explained that the budget change was due to the division being in the very early conceptual phase of the parkway going into the park when submitting its 2021 budget.

At that time, Collins said, they thought the project would run an estimated cost of $2 million.

“After we refined that budget, we anticipated a cost of approximately … $2,652,000 was the anticipated project cost for, again, the parkway, multi-use trails and Honor Plaza features. This left a shortfall of $599,000 from what we budgeted in the 2021 budget,” Collins explained.

Park Land Development Fund

As a result, the division asked the committee to approve making up the $599,000 from the division’s Park Land Development Fund.

“This is not additional bonding that is necessary,” he said. “But it’s strictly out of our Park Land Development Fund to be utilized for this project.”

Before asking questions, Gentz stated, while chuckling, that he must have “ESP”. He had asked a clerk about the fund earlier that day without knowing it would come up at the meeting. 

“I’d like to know how much is in that Park Land Development Fund, if we have any other funds like that for purposes like purchasing property or anything else we have where we have a fund sitting there that’s available for things like this,” he said. 

“So I would like a report on that at our next meeting.”

According to Collins, the majority of the fund is holdover from a grant award.

“Most of this money came from last year or the year before when ATC gave us the $1.3 million,” he said. “And the board approved accepting that and being able to spend that on parks projects. So that’s really … that’s where that fund came from. And by the time we’re done with this, there’ll be about $200,000, maybe a little bit more, left over.”

Ron Frederick made a motion to approve the resolution, which members passed unanimously.

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Authorization for Collins to apply for grants

Collins also asked the committee to approve a resolution authorizing him to apply for state DNR grant funding. 

“This is just for the application of our stewardship grant that we apply to on an annual basis,” Collins said. “And this project would be a total of a $750,000 grant request. Which half, or $375,000, would be Kenosha County match.

“And this would go towards both a restroom facility for Veterans Memorial Park, adjacent to all of our park development on the western side of this park, as well as ongoing multi-use trail expansions through this park.”

He stressed, several times, that the county would only pay the match if approved in the division’s 2022 budget. 

“If that was taken out, then we would not be able to be awarded this grant because we would not have the bonded debt or anything else to have that matched,” he said. “So it still needs formal authorization from a budget standpoint at a later time.”

Other costs of parks improvements to the county

Collins also brokedown the three specific phases of the Veterans Memorial Park Project.

“We’re working on Phase I, that does include the restroom facility and the additional multi-use trails,” he said. “Phase II includes both entrance signage and six pavilions to honor each military branch through the park. 

“Then, the final phase would be additional parkway expansion.”

He also noted that, despite previous plans, the restroom facility would be the only real enclosure at the park.

“It’s more strictly an outdoor venue, outdoor plaza space,” he said. “Except for the restroom facility; that would be the only considered ‘indoor’ building to this location.”


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