Holland electors choose Highway 57 site for new town hall

Brian Roebke photo
Lois Trad led the charge for electors to choose the corner of Highway 57 and Holland Road for the site of the new town hall for the Town of Holland. The location is closer to the center of the town than the other choice, Hollandtown Community Park.

By Brian Roebke
The electors of the Town of Holland voted in favor of building a new town hall at the corner of Highway 57 and Holland Road at a special meeting of the electors on Wednesday, Sept. 6, at Van Abel’s of Hollandtown.
The town board, with the assistance of an ad-hoc committee formed to study the issues, basically ended up with two sites to choose from: Hollandtown Community Park and a seven-acre site at the corner of Highway 57 and Holland Road owned by Brown County.
With 56 electors in attendance, the vote was 30 for this location, 24 for Hollandtown Community Park, with two abstaining after about 30 minutes of discussion.
It’s believed the sale price for the land is $10,000 an acre, totaling $70,000. Town board members didn’t have any other concrete numbers but believed additional costs are $12-15,000 for a septic system and an unknown amount for a parking lot.
Mike Geiger said it would “probably” cost $150,000-$200,000 to make the site able to construct a building. The community park would have no costs to make it buildable.
Town resident Mark Eiting believed the electors needed more information before making a decision.
“Unless we get some concrete numbers so we know what we’re voting on, I can’t vote for a place that costs $150,000-$200,000 more than the other place,” Eiting said.
The positive thing is the town is now receiving revenue from Brown County for the south landfill, with millions of dollars coming in over the life of the landfill. The town will have plenty to spend if it chooses to.
Town resident Lois Trad thought the town hall should be in the center of the town so everyone had access to it.
“Technically speaking $150,000 for a big area of land for taxpayers is not a big deal nowadays,” she said. “I think we need to look past the money.”
She found through research that town halls were supposed to be in the center of towns so everyone had equal access to it and the town should keep that philosophy.
She said the town could continue holding meetings at Van Abel’s if it wanted, and Eiting suggested that should be a third option, which was shot down.
Eiting didn’t think the site really mattered. One Hollandtown resident said he’s been going to the present town hall in Askeaton for 50 years and siting a new building in Hollandtown could “even it out,” which gathered some chuckles.
Another question that resurfaced is what happens if the town hall is no longer located in the town of Holland?
Town Treasurer Gloria Kennedy thinks the park might be a busy place in the coming years and people may not want to go near it since parking has been an issue in the past, particularly when there are elections on days that softball is played at the parking adjoining the town hall.
“I’m not sure it’s a wise decision to put a town hall in the same piece of property as a community park,” she said. “I think the autonomy of having its own place is important.”
Carolyn Green said she hasn’t seen another town hall that’s located in a town park and questioned if there might be conflicts with events and have parking problems.
However, it should be noted the towns of Vandenbroek, Buchanan, Harrison, and Kaukauna, as well as the Village of Wrightstown, have adjacent parks.
There were questions if the City of Kaukauna would reach all the way to Hollandtown, but there aren’t any guarantees.
Addressing concerns about sanitation, Patty Lamers said the sanitary sewer system was just upgraded and should be able to handle everything for the next 30 years.
Town Chair Mike Smits wanted a decision made during the meeting because the issue has been around for decades and it needs to get done.
Kennedy estimated the town is getting roughly $500,000 a year from landfill, so one year of payments should cover the cost of the relocation of the town hall.
One resident complained about rising property taxes and wondered what this would cost him, but it was pointed out that town taxes are stable and their additional tax money is going to Wrightstown schools.
In a separate vote, electors unanimously approved a resolution authorizing the town board to exercise village powers under Wisconsin statutes.
“The main thing they allow is for more home rule,” Attorney Alex Sickel said.
This gives the town more power to regulate industrial development in the town than it had before the state legislature eroded some of those powers.
This issue was sparked at the plan commission level due to industrial developments that came to the town in the past and may in the future.
It gives the town more authority regarding siting, location, and regulation of developments.
Electors must grant the authority, and it can also take it away at any meeting of the electors, which is called the annual meeting, or at a special meeting called either by the town board or the townspeople.