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City's District 4 candidates disagree on development

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River Falls, 54022
Hudson Star Observer
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River Falls Wisconsin 2815 Prairie Drive / P.O. Box 25 54022

Wyland: Downtown deserves attention

Lee Wyland says it was the Boy Scout in him that caused him to enter the race for the District 2 City Council seat when he heard that incumbent Roger Riedel wasn't seeking another term.

"Part of being a Boy Scout is citizenship in the community, nation and the world - and I've always been interested in the community," says Wyland, a 45-year-old software engineer and technology manager who has resided in the old town neighborhood of Hudson since 1995.

He and wife, Laurie, restored the historic home at 719 Fifth St. where they reside with their three children - Emily, 10, Peter, 4, and Samuel, 3. The Italian Villa home, built sometime between 1848 and 1852, was once the residence of early Hudson mayor Calvin Coon.

While Wyland says he didn't enter the alderperson race because of any specific issue, he is concerned about preserving the residential character of Hudson's older neighborhoods and improving the downtown commercial district.

"Millions and millions of dollars have been spent in the new business park and up on the hill. I think that we need to be looking at ways to improve our downtown tourist district, and draw businesses into downtown Hudson to continue to support and build that area," he says.

Wyland says the city is losing its cohesiveness with all the development that has taken place in recent years.

"My concern is that with all the new buildings that have gone up we haven't maintained the integrity of the city," he says. "We've created two cities with two completely different feels. How to fix that, I don't know. But as we move forward, we have to look at (why) people are coming into Hudson. I think it is our responsibility as a City Council to make sure that the developments that are created are created with the same Hudson charm."

Wyland opposes the latest proposal for a multi-family unit housing development on the site of the former Hudson Memorial Hospital. He says the property that was taken from city parkland when the hospital was built in the 1950s should be returned to the city, and the rest should remain zoned for single-family houses.

He also favors single-family housing for any residential developments along the Carmichael Road corridor north of the Hudson Golf Club.

He's in no hurry to see the Atwood property at the southwest corner of Carmichael and Vine developed, but if it is, would prefer it to be a single-family home neighborhood with yards and sidewalks.

"We have a business district. We have a lot of commercial (property) across I-94. I don't see any reason to add additional commercial up Vine Street or around the corner," he says. "We have plenty of space for commercial."

The 45-year-old Wyland grew up in Stillwater but chose Hudson as the place to raise his family after returning to the area in 1995. "It's how I remember Stillwater - more of a community," he says.

He has worked as a software engineer and technology manager for a number of companies, including IBM, Gagnon & Associates, Deluxe Corp. and Long Term Care Group. He has a bachelor's degree from UW-River Falls and a master's degree from the University of Minnesota.

His current position is director of process engineering for M-Audio, a provider of audio equipment for amateur and professional musicians.

His computer and management expertise could be an asset for the city, he says. We was with IBM when it launched the AS 400 computer that city hall uses.

"I know a little bit about that particular product," he says.

Luepke: Change in Hudson can be good

Jill Luepke doesn't understand why people would be opposed to the construction of condominium buildings on First Street in downtown Hudson or the old hospital site above the river valley.

"The way our economy is going, I look at condos downtown and I love that idea," she says.

"I don't see why people don't love that idea as well, because it's a captured audience. That's two blocks away from my house. I love it. In the summertime, I can walk to work. I can walk to all of my downtown retailers to buy birthday gifts - the convenience of walking downtown and getting my groceries and walking back home. You're close to the river. What more could you ask for? Why would you turn that down unless there was a good reason?"

Luepke, a 38-year-old Hudson native, said she considered dropping out of the District 4 council race when she heard there was another candidate seeking the position. But after talking to opponent Lee Wyland, she decided to see it through because she doesn't agree with his views on development.

She says that when it comes to development, if it makes sense for the community and the consequences of it have been thought out, it's OK.

"We are never going to be able to stop it."

Luepke says her goal is for people to think of Hudson as one community.

"Every time I hear people getting involved with city politics, it's either downtown or the hill. You're either for downtown and you're against the hill, or you're for development," she says. "...Can't we just get somebody in there with an open mind and able to look at the community as a whole? It's not just downtown. It's not just the hill. It's everybody. I have no agenda."

Luepke says she thinks Mayor Jack Breault and the City Council have done a good job of managing the city's growth.

Luepke graduated from Hudson High School in 1986. She's lived here all but 10 years when she had a husband in the Air Force.

"Living here my whole life, I've had the opportunity to see the changes that have taken place," she says. "I think Hudson is a fantastic city. It's beautiful."

She worked in the circulation and marketing department for the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald, a Knight Ridder newspaper, before returning to Hudson and taking a job as circulation manager for the Star-Observer in 1997. She moved on to oversee circulation for the Red Wing (Minn.) Republican Eagle and in 2001 opened her own cleaning service in Hudson.

She's currently working toward a bachelor's degree in criminal justice administration through Park College and hopes to eventually attend law school.

Her daughter Jaenea graduated from Hudson High School two years ago. A second daughter, Carley, is a student at Hudson Middle School.

Her parents, Carl and Faye Luepke, reside just south of the Prairie View Center in the town of Hudson. She moved into her current residence at 723 Laurel Ave. last April.

"I think we need to get back to community," Luepke says. She says her challenge for alderpersons is for them to get to know their neighborhoods.

"I'm an active participant in my district," she says. "I'm out in my community. I'm active in my community. I know a lot of people. (I) give back."

"The city needs to get out and do some PR work," she says.

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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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