Council decides to keep riverfront propertyAfter further review, the Hudson City Council has decided to maintain city ownership of all the riverfront property between Lakefront Park and St. Croix Street. The council voted 4-0 Monday night to end consideration of selling the parkland.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
After further review, the Hudson City Council has decided to maintain city ownership of all the riverfront property between Lakefront Park and St. Croix Street.
The council voted 4-0 Monday night to end consideration of selling the parkland.
In a separate action, the alderpersons also ordered private boat docks on the land to be removed by Oct. 1. That motion carried on a voice vote with no one opposing it, although Alderperson Mary Yacoub had argued that the owners should be given until Nov. 15 to remove the docks.
The actions would appear to put to rest an issue that arose close to a year ago, when the city Public Works and Parks Department began removing watercraft and other items from the riverfront north of Lakefront Park.
Some city residents questioned why they had to remove their property, when a handful of First Street homeowners were allowed to have boat docks on the property.
That led to decision by city officials in March to send a letter to the owners ordering them to remove the docks. But shortly after, the City Council took up the debate and has been weighing what to do about the docks since then.
In late July, the council voted 3-2 to explore selling some of the parkland to the dock owners as a way of allowing them to keep their St. Croix River docks.
Alderperson Randy Morrissette II, whose parents live on the west side of First Street in the area in question, and Alderperson John Hoggatt, one of the dock owners, have recused themselves from discussion of the issue. They haven’t participated in any of the decisions on it.
Ahead of Monday night’s meeting, City Attorney Catherine Munkittrick provided council members with an eight-page answer to questions about whether the city could or should sell any of the riverfront property.
She said the city would have to find that the property is no longer suitable for recreational purposes to sell it if it was acquired after the adoption of Wis. Stat. 85.09.
If the land was purchased before the state law was adopted, the city could sell it “under terms the council deems consistent with the public interest, or for a public purpose,” Munkittrick reported.
“The city would need to sell the property at fair market value to fulfill the public purpose requirement,” she added. “It would be advisable to obtain an appraisal of the property to determine fair market value.”
She said any proposed sale should be referred to the Plan Commission for its recommendation, and that a public hearing would have to be held.
Mayor Alan Burchill, with input from alderpersons, decided to allow members of the audience to again address the council on the issue prior to the decision.
The 10 speakers were limited to three minutes each.
Dock owners Roxann Hanson and Sarah Atkins, wife of Alderperson Hoggatt, argued that the docks help protect the natural habitat along the riverfront.
Dean Hanson presented the council with historical documents that he said showed he owned the riverfront behind his First Street home.
Paul Radermacher, chair of the Hudson Park Board, said the board had voted unanimously to recommend against the sale of any of the parkland, and to recommend removal of the docks.
“To sell park property, I think, is really irresponsible,” Radermacher said.
Citizens Sharon Norton-Bauman, Tom Smith, Genie Castro, Scot O’Malley and Elizabeth McCormick also spoke against the sale.
Castro said her daughter enjoys jogging on the pathway that runs along the riverfront on the property.
“I think it needs to stay with the people of Hudson,” she said.
McCormick said she enjoys running and walking on the city’s pathways and couldn’t follow the logic of why the city would want to sell part of one.
Council President Rich Vanselow and Public Works Committee chair Lori Bernard, who voted against the sale the last time, said they hadn’t learned anything to make them change their opinions.
Alderpersons Mary Yacoub and Kurt TeWinkel said that the research done by Munkittrick had led them to agree with Vanselow and Bernard.
Both Yacoub and TeWinkel said it was important to thoroughly research the issue before deciding.
Yacoub said she took offense to some who thought she had an ulterior motive for voting to further research the issue.