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City Council declines another meeting with the school board about St. Croix Meadows

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City Council declines another meeting with the school board about St. Croix Meadows
River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

The Hudson City Council on a 4-2 vote Monday night turned down a request from School Board President Jamie Johnson for another meeting about a new proposal to build a high school at St. Croix Meadows.

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Mayor Alan Burchill said he didn’t want to waste everybody’s time if a deciding majority of the council is opposed to rezoning 63 acres of the vacant dog track for public use. That’s how much land the school board says it needs for a proposed three-year high school at the site.

Burchill said he was aware that two alderpersons (John Hoggatt and Jim Webber) favor continued study of the proposal, but he wanted to know how the rest of the council felt.

It would take a two-thirds majority of the council (four members) to approve rezoning the St. Croix Meadows property, under the council rules contained in Chapter 23 of the Municipal Code.

The school board's new proposal is for mixed-use of the dog track, with about 33 acres set aside for private development.

Burchill expressed confidence that the dog track, vacant since 2001, will eventually be developed for commercial and/or light industrial use.

People called the canyon blasted through a limestone ridge to extend Hanley Road to St. Croix Business Park “the big folly,” Burchill said. They didn’t think companies would locate in the business park, but now it is nearly full.

“We need to make decisions that are based on what is good for the city,” Burchill said.

Alderperson Rich Vanselow, who at a June 9 joint meeting of the council and school board showed some interest in the school proposal, closed the door on it Monday night.

“I’m not sold that it is good for either one of us,” he said.

Alderperson Mary Yacoub was more adamant.

Responding emotionally to comments by Hoggatt, Yacoub called the new proposal a bad plan and accused school board members of lying.

“I’m tired of the dog and pony show,” she said, indicating that she has already made up her mind on the issue.

“I’m going to make a motion that we just end this,” she said.

Hoggatt said he thought the issue was “way, way too important” to refuse to hold continued talks with the school board.

“Don’t we want our high school in Hudson?” he asked, repeating a question from the June 9 meeting.

He said people have told him they are going to move away from Hudson if school overcrowding isn’t dealt with soon.

When challenged about the statement, he said at least 10 people had told him that.

Hoggatt asked why the council was afraid of going to referendum on the rezoning.

Council President Randy Morrissette II said the council should keep communication going with the school board, but that another meeting wasn’t necessary.

“I think we asked for some information,” he noted.

He said he wouldn’t support “anything from the school” unless it is put up for referendum in the November election.

“I will take responsibility if the City Council doesn’t want to do this (meet with the school board again),” Burchill said. “Why are we going to waste their time and our time?”

The mayor said the question of expanding the district’s classroom space is an emotional one. He said if the council is opposed to allowing a high school to be built on the dog track, it should let the school board know it up front.

Vanselow seconded Yacoub’s motion not to meet with the school board. The motion carried with Morrissette and Alderperson Tom McCormick also supporting it.

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Randy Hanson
Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.
(715) 426-1066
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