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City says it will be repaid for fencing Iceport site

Oct. 16, 2008

Despite a ruling that Sportsites was supposed to pay for a fence surrounding the dilapidated Powerade Iceport structure, the city of Cudahy will foot the bill for now.

In January 2007, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Hansher ordered that Sportsites, owner of the Iceport, place a fence around the property and affix “no trespassing” signs along the perimeter.

That never happened.

City continues to rent fence

Because the rusted skeletal structure has been deemed unsafe, city officials opted to erect a chain-linked fence around the property to keep children and vandals out.

The fence was rented for one year, but the city’s contract is coming to an end.

City officials voted 3-1 Oct. 7 to renew the contract for another year.

Some residents voiced concerns that the city should not be paying for the fence rental because Sportsites is not complying with the judge’s ruling.

“That is not our property,” resident Richard Gawelko said. “The city’s liability for putting up the fence is not there. We should not pay for that fence.”

Cudahy Station on track

City Attorney Paul Eberhardy said the Community Development Authority is working on a development agreement with Continental Properties for the proposed Cudahy Station, which would include a Wal-Mart Supercenter, a Milwaukee Wave soccer training facility, retail shops and a hotel.

If the development agreement moves forward, the cost of razing the rusted steel beams of the Iceport structure and its footings, and addressing the environmental issues on the site, would be paid by the developer, he said.

The money invested for the rented fence would be listed as a special assessment and would be billed to whoever purchases the property.

“We’re not forgetting about these fees we’re paying,” Eberhardy said.

Since Sportsites choose not to pay for the fence, city officials decided to do it to protect the community.

“I mean short of me walking down to James Kasten’s (managing director of Sportsites) office and leading him by the hand, which isn’t going to work, he ain’t gonna do it,” Eberhardy said “And for us to levy a special assessment against a person who has no money, I might as well just take my wallet and set it on fire because that’s the same effect.”

Razing structure examined

Eberhardy said the city was given permission to either raze the Iceport structure or put up the fence after Sportsites failed to comply with the judge’s ruling.

Mayor Ryan McCue said city officials examined options to raze the building. He said it would have cost nothing to take down the structure’s steel beams, but to remove the footings, the price was estimated at $45,000.

“But our ordinances state that you have to remove the footings, so even if we wanted it to be free we couldn’t do that anyways,” he said.

The council could have paid $660 per month instead of renewing its year-long contract for the fence, but city officials are uncertain as to when a development agreement would be approved.

Cudahy Station has been approved in concept by the CDA. The Plan Commission endorsed the proposal, pending a development agreement.

Chantel Balzell can be reached at (262) 446-6602.

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