Honadel & Oak Creek aldermen ignore constituents

As reported by Today’s TMJ4, Oak Creek aldermen voted yesterday evening to allow what’s likely the state’s largest postal facility to be built in Oak Creek. Aldermen voted to approve the facility despite vocal opposition to the facility by residents of Oak Creek. In fact, Oak Creek Mayor Dick Bolender told a reporter for Today’s TMJ4 no amount of public outcry would have swayed his support for the project.

Newly reelected State Rep. Mark Honadel, who represents Oak Creek in the State Assembly, urged approval because of 2,200 jobs USPS promised to relocate to the area, saying, “They will buy the houses. They will spend the cash here.” It’s worth noting that the 2,200 jobs “promised” to be relocated to Oak Creek are not 2,200 new jobs, but rather existing jobs that are being shifted to the new facility, and I’m willing to bet the folks who have those jobs aren’t going to relocate and buy houses in Oak Creek just because the facility moved 20 minutes south from downtown Milwaukee.

What’s more, the facility itself won’t generate any property taxes for the city of Oak Creek, because as a federal facility it is exempt from paying property taxes. In my opinion, putting a tax-exempt building seven times the size of a Woodman’s grocery store right next to a residential neighborhood seems to be not only an odd fit, but a waste of a prime piece of real estate, given the facility’s proposed location on the corner of College Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue.

The fact that these elected officials – individuals who are supposed to be a voice for their constituents – have chosen to ignore the concerns of the people they represent speaks volumes about just how much they care about their constituents, and I hope the disregard Rep. Honadel and Oak Creek’s mayor and aldermen have shown towards their constituents will be remembered come when those officials are up for election again.

Here’s some video of the TMJ4 story.

Greg Kowalski over at Metro Milwaukee Today has more.


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4 thoughts on “Honadel & Oak Creek aldermen ignore constituents

  1. I think you forgot to mention one thing in that post, Zach. In the deal, Oak Creek will be getting $1.6 million total from the various partners in this project. Furthermore, it’s now guaranteed that College Avenue will be widened to 4 lanes from the crappy 2 lane “road” that’s falling apart. Also, the intersection of College and Pennsylvania should be reconstructed now due to the facility.

    If you were an alderman in Oak Creek, I think this would be very difficult to pass up, especially during tough economic times where many local communities’ budgets are finding shortfalls.

  2. Sure, Oak Creek gets 1.6 million dollars in total from the various partners in the project, but that’s it; they don’t get to collect any property taxes on a 759,000 square foot building over the life of that building. I’d think a site of that size and at that location would be prime for a development that would generate more than 1.6 million dollars in property tax revenue. Sure, the city’s getting a good deal with the road repairs, but I stand by my belief that they’re getting a raw deal with the lost property tax revenue.

    However, putting aside the financial aspects of this deal, I think it’s disappointing Oak Creek’s elected officials didn’t really seem to care about what their constituents felt about this deal. After all, weren’t they elected to serve their constituents?

  3. Here’s the problem that I think aldermen face, Zach. All those residents who came to oppose the development came primarily (if not all) from one single aldermanic district in the city. Therefore, we don’t know if the other aldermen received favorable phone calls or e-mails to this project.

    As you mentioned, they’re elected to serve THEIR constituents. If anything, the only alderman I can see open to criticism would be OC 1st District Alderman Tom Vandervort, who represents those people but yet voted YES for the project. The other ones that could be held accountable? Mayor Dick Bolender and State Rep. Honadel, who represent those constituents on the local and state levels, respectively. But AGAIN, Zach, the argument comes into play that perhaps more people in Oak Creek…living far and away from this massive parcel…supported the infusion of revenue now rather than later.

    Why am I saying all of this? Well, the same thing happened in Franklin with the Target project. The next door neighbors to that development, wealthy homeowners in McMansions, fought hard against it…but at the end of the day it came down to people all over Franklin wanting a Target. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

  4. Greg, you might have a point, but I still fail to see how this is a good financial deal for Oak Creek. A 1.6 million dollar payment and some road improvements seems like a pretty raw deal for a piece of land of that size and at that location.

    What’s more, I’d like to know how Rep. Honadel figures the postal facility is going to be the economic boon to Oak Creek that he’s made it out to be. When Rep. Honadel said the people working at that facility would be “buying the homes,” was he serious? I’d imagine a large number of the folks who will be working at the Oak Creek facility are folks who already work at the downtown facility, and I can’t see too many of those folks buying homes in Oak Creek simply because their facility moved 15 minutes south. If anything, all this facility does is contribute to increased traffic on the freeway as well as increased congestion on College and Pennsylvania Avenues.

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