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Five Diamonds' decision still on hold

After council debates, another vote is needed

Nov. 14, 2012

As if their team had just scored the winning run, the crowd cheered and showed their jubilation.

Walking out of the City Hall Council Chambers Nov. 8, Tom Kelenic, owner of Five Diamonds, shook hands with his fellow Waukesha Blazer parents in victory with a smile on his face.

Most of them - donning Waukesha Blazers gear or Five Diamonds sweatshirts - left happy.

They had just watched what they appeared had been a victory for Five Diamonds and what they thought was the approval of annexation for 36.6 acres of the baseball and softball complex (30 acres are upland and about six acres are wetland) that is located on Les Paul Parkway (Highway 59/164) and Milky Way Road from the Town of Waukesha into the City of Waukesha.

There was just one problem. It was never fully approved.

After being informed by Shawn Reilly, an attorney who was in attendance at the meeting, that when the ordinance is presented to the Common Council, there needs to be a two-thirds approval (10 of 15 members) for the annexation to be passed.

Community Development Director Steve Crandell informed the Common Council this important fact after those happy parents, coaches and owners left the Chambers after 10:30 p.m.

And when this item comes back to the Common Council, Five Diamonds will need some Council members to switch their votes as it was a 7-7 tie last week.

Fait accompli?

It was only after the mayor broke the tie that most everyone viewed the annexation complete.

"I couldn't believe it," said Kelenic, who did not hear about that ruling until after he was home from a local reporter. "I thought she was kidding."

Kelenic and the many individuals who spoke in favor of the annexation during the one-hour public comment portion of the meeting were hoping for a fresh start after a rocky tenure with town officials and the neighbors near the fields.

But because of that relationship, Ald. Duane Paulson was one of the many council members who did not support the annexation.

"I'd be a lot more comfortable voting for this annexation if the relationship with the Town of Waukesha had been better," Paulson said. "If they'd be willing to work out their differences I could have voted for this."

Those who joined Paulson in his vote, were Ald. Kathleen Cummings, Joan Francoeur, Joe Pieper, Eric Payne, John Kalblinger and Terry Thieme.

Ald. Chris Hernandez was not present at the Council meeting.

Unique situation

Before the vote and discussion with the aldermen, City Planner Jennifer Andrews said, "The annexation is a little bit unique in that the annexation request is more about zoning than about utilities (since the facility is already built)." For example, she said typical annexation requests the city sees is when the owner needs services if the property has failing wells or septics.

But Andrews explained that the state and the city staff recommends that the annexation is in the public interest and that the city could provide police, fire and EMT services at a higher level than the town.

Ald. Richard Hastings, Steve Johnson, Adam Jankowski, Vance Skinner, Andy Reiland, Paul Ybarra and Roger Patton thought it was in the best interest of the city.

"I absolutely see no downsides looking at the annexation part of it," Skinner said. "It just seems natural that that the city is the most well-suited partner."

And Ybarra added, "that any relationship the owners had with the Town is that relationship and if you do not adhere to what the city guidelines are we're going to apply fines and we're going to continue to do that and if it doesn't go well, it's going to get ugly."

Town officials in August said there had been 40 violation complaints of keeping the lights on past the allotted time.

Most kids from Waukesha

Kelenic isn't sure why city officials are agreeing with these complaints.

"Those complaints came from Sandy Hamm, who has been against us," said Kelenic, referring to a neighbor of Five Diamonds who Kelenic added was warned over the summer for repeatedly video taping games from the wetlands. "In my opinion, there is no relevance or truth to the violations. I haven't received any citations or warnings. I think the swing voters need to know that."

Hamm, who has addressed his concerns to town officials in the past, spoke at the council meeting as well.

The permit with the town called for most games to be finished by 9:30 p.m. But those who spoke during the public comment section in support of the annexation said that baseball is not a timed sport and that games in Year 1 of the complex have been negatively affected by this permit.

"One of the things is you play a game, you have to play by the rules," Thieme said. " I view that not any differently than the closing rules for bars downtown. If they're found in violation, they're cited. I think the same principle has to apply here."

Waukesha Blazers President Brad Henes said 85 percent of the 1,000 kids who are part of the organization that utilizes the facility live in the City of Waukesha.

Hastings has heard from many of those who live in his district in support of the annexation.

"People in the district are very passionate about this complex," Hastings said. "If 85 percent of the kids that use this park live in the city and we have the ability to provide a higher level of service why would we not afford them that service and safety? What we're talking about is a fear of what might happen in the future of an agreement that we have control over."

'No upside for the city'

Cummings said the city should take control over this by keeping it in the town.

"They are government shopping," said a very vocal Cummings of the owners. "There's no upside for me and there's no upside for the city. The city already benefits because it's there."

Pieper also addressed his concerns.

"I can't get past that we are looking to bring something into the city that has not been able to work things out with the previous governing body," Pieper said.

The council is scheduled to take up the zoning requirements of the complex Dec. 4 and they could take another vote on this at that meeting.

Kelenic said he met with city officials this week to get more direction on the status.

When asked about the recent developments now with the city, Kelenic, who is already preparing for Season 2 at Five Diamonds, said "I don't know if this whole thing will ever be over in regards to the drama. I could do without it."

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