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Five Diamonds owner hopeful for annexation

Common Council meets tonight to decide on complex

Nov. 6, 2012

It certainly hasn't been a smooth first season for co-owner Tom Kelenic at the Five Diamonds baseball and softball complex in the Town of Waukesha.

There's been violation complaints from nearby neighbors and Town officials regarding noise and lights, harassment complaints from the owners on those neighbors and after working with the Town since the beginning when the park was first proposed in 2010, Kelenic and co-owner Greg Beatty recently petitioned to have the property annexed into the City of Waukesha.

"It's not so much removing from the Town, but more on being associated with a municipality that is accustomed to having parks and managing parks," Kelenic said. "The Town doesn't have the management background or the experience to deal with a park such as ours. The City of Waukesha is recognized for its gold-medal awardwinning parks system and we want to fit into that category.

"We're just hoping everything falls into place with the city."

That could happen if the city's Common Council approves a recommendation from the Plan Commission of the annexation of the 36.62 acres of land east of South Highway 164 and south of Sunset Drive for the facility located at Les Paul Parkway (Highway 59/164) and Milky Way Road.

The council will also look at the Plan Commission's recommendation of A.W. Bryant's property to annex 3.34 acres west of Milky Way Road and south of Sunset Drive from the Town to the City. The property is going to be used for a naturescape.

The Council meets at 7:30 p.m. today at the City Hall Council Chambers, 201 Delafield St.

Kelenic and Beatty broke ground at Five Diamonds in the summer of 2011, amid concerns from neighbors regarding the lights at the fields.

After it opened this spring, the neighbors' concerns did not go away and Town Planner Roger Dupler said there were 40 violation complaints of keeping the lights on a half-hour after games and 13 of starting early this summer.

Neighbors said the town needed to enforce the conditional use permit, while the users of the facility called the neighbors' claims "petty."

"We felt that we addressed all the concerns the neighbors have had from the standpoint of the lights," said Kelenic, who said the $2 million project was started because of the lack of fields in Waukesha. "For us, the city has more structure to help us be successful.

"Our goal is for the kids to play a full game and not be taken off the field five minutes before the game is over. I think time heals everything. It was a drastic change from what (the neighbors) were used to. So hopefully, over time they can learn to accept that this facility is about creating memories for the kids."

Kelenic did not want to say what his preference would be for a new conditional use permit, which includes starting and closing times, as that would be something he would discuss with city officials if the annexation is approved.

Kelenic is looking for the property to be zoned "Park" and a public hearing has been set for Dec. 4 on that topic.

"We're breaking the iceberg as a privately-owned complex," Kelenic said. "There had never been a project like this, even at the state level."

When asked about the rocky relationship between the town and Five Diamonds possibly ending, Kelenic said, "We're not trying to look back."

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