Q&A with Mary Bujold

As with virtually everything else related to the proposed Kettle Park West development, the economic impact analysis conducted by a Minneapolis-based research firm generated a good deal of controversy.

KPW supporters point to the many positives listed in the report, while detractors note the negatives and the fact that the analysis was conducted without all of the information that Maxfield Research had requested.

Maxfield president Mary Bujold discussed the report’s findings on Sept. 11 at a meeting with city officials.

Last week, she talked with the Courier Hub via telephone from Minneapolis about the analysis.


Officials question impact analysis

On the positive side, a Wal-Mart Supercenter in the proposed Kettle Park West development would likely generate $12 million annually in new business sales and create 159 new jobs.

On the negative side, it would likely draw spending from existing businesses in Stoughton, particularly in such areas as groceries, hardware, electronics, pharmacy and personal care products.

Those are some basic conclusions contained in a long-awaited economic impact analysis of how a new commercial center could affect local business here.

The Common Council commissioned the study as required in the city’s so-called Big Box ordinance. The study was conducted over a six-to-eight week period this summer by Maxfield Research Inc., based in Minneapolis.


City faces another lean budget

While not as dire as in the past few years, Stoughton’s city budget for next year is still looking extremely lean.

The city’s cost for services continues to increase every year, yet the amount the city can increase its property tax levy is tied to its net new construction.

That means difficult decisions this year as city leaders spend the next few weeks working out what to cut and what to keep in the budget.

While growth is up, it’s still under 1 percent. And while the structural deficit – the difference between the amount requested by department heads and the amount available to spend – is half of last year’s, it’s still more than $300,000.

Beginning Tuesday, the Finance committee will discuss reports from the citizen-and-official Results Teams, which met this summer to prioritize services, and the city’s budget gap. It will lead to a Sept. 29 Town Hall meeting for citizens to learn more about the budget and express ideas.


Homicide charges in July heroin death

A Stoughton man could face more than 40 years in prison for his alleged role in the overdose death of another man in July.

Robbert S. Knipfer, 26, was charged with first degree reckless homicide Sept. 10, online court records show. Joseph B. Mayweathers, 24, of Madison, also faces the same charge for allegedly selling the drug to Knipfer.

Knipfer allegedly sold heroin to Dylan R. Nelson on July 4, his 25th birthday, according to a criminal complaint filed in Dane County Circuit Court. Nelson had been with family during the day, but allegedly purchased $40 worth of heroin in the afternoon from Knipfer. Nelson took the drug alone and was found dead at his grandmother’s home. Police later arrested Knipfer after staking out the apartment where the drug was purchased. Mayweathers was arrested a few weeks later in Madison.


Business park TID expansion goes to council

Photo by Jim Ferolie/Special thanks to Oliver Himsel. Business Park North had filled two years ago with the addition of Nelson Global, but a plan to create a new tax-increment financing district could provide room to grow into the Moe property to the north (bottom of the photo).

The City of Stoughton is moving forward with a plan to create a new tax-increment financing district as part of an expanded Business Park North.

Commission members Monday voted to forward the plan to the Common Council despite one concern from a business owner in the current business park. The city wants to move the plan forward in order to create the district this year in case glass manufacturer Guardian Interior Glass decides to build this year.

The new TIF district (or TID) – a financing tool used by municipalities to encourage development and improve infrastructure  – would not be used to pay for Guardian’s expenses to build here, city finance director Laurie Sullivan said, but would allow the city to use the increase tax revenue from Guardian to expand the park further on about 35 acres to the north.


Sheriff warns of phone scam

The Dane County Sheriff’s Office issued a warning Tuesday about a phone scam circulating in the area where callers are using “scare tactics” and posing as law enforcement.

According to a press release from the Sheriff’s Office, in the past few weeks, several people said they received a phone call or message in reference to a variety of legal issues. The scammer then directs them to immediately call the main number to the Sheriff’s Office for follow-up.  

The scammers claim they are calling to collect a debt or back taxes, and then threaten that an arrest warrant will be issued if the call is not returned in a timely manner. If the victim answers the phone, they are often asked for personal information about his or her family members.


Visitors check out ‘one-of-a-kind’ Wal-Mart

Photos by Mark Ignatowski. Wal-Mart’s most recent open house drew people curious about the development project proposed for the corner of Hwy. 51 and Hwy 138. Above, Jim Bricker of JSD Professional Services talks with visitors about the project.

Visitors had another chance last week to review the latest store design for Wal-Mart’s proposed superstore inside Kettle Park West.

The dozen or so attendees who stopped by to chat with Wal-Mart officials and the development team for Kettle Park West seemed mostly supportive of the project, though some still had questions and reservations.

The store – described as the only of its kind by architect Gabriel Massa – draws on cues from Stoughton’s downtown. The 153,000 square-foot store has facades that would face Hwys. 138 and 51. The facades have different materials, colors, heights and depths of features that differ from the typical “blue box” store sometimes associated with the company’s stores.

The store designs have not been finalized by the company, but mockups and a video tour of the proposed Wal-Mart site were available at last week’s public open house.


City holds discussion on economic analysis

The Common Council and Planning Commission will hold a joint meeting Thursday to discuss the long-awaited Kettle Park West economic impact analysis.

The analysis, required by city policy as part of the big-box ordinance, was not discussed publicly before the city approved a developer’s agreement with Forward Development Group at KPW. That agreement contained a provision requiring the construction of a building of not less than 150,000 square feet, as well as $5.1 million worth of traffic and site improvements paid for by a yet-to-be created tax-increment financing (TIF) district.

FDG announced in January that the anchor retailer in that development would be a Wal-mart Supercenter.

The city did not vote to order the economic impact analysis until April 8, and it was initially due in June. The $16,525 report was expected to take about three months.


Ex-teacher arrested for nude photos

A former Stoughton Area School District teacher and sports coach was charged Wednesday with two felony counts of sending sexually explicit photos and videos to two underage Stoughton High School students.

Brandon M. Amato, 24, was charged in Dane County Circuit Court with two felony counts of exposing his genitals/pubic area/intimate parts to a child, according to online records. Alleged offense dates are listed as June 29 and Aug. 2 of this year, after he had left the district.

Amato worked as a one-year temporary teacher and coach for the Stoughton Area School District from Aug. 28, 2013 to June 10, 2014, teaching high school social studies and serving as a freshman football coach, eighth-grade boys basketball coach and assistant boys’ tennis coach.


Short-term fill for vacant council seat

The Common Council is seeking candidates to fill a vacancy in District 1 that was created when David Kneebone died last month.

The council on Aug. 26 unanimously approved Ald. Tricia’s Suess’ motion to appoint someone to fill the seat until the April 2015 election. Alders decided to try to make an appointment at the last meeting in September – Tuesday, Sept. 23 – and to follow the same guidelines used in the recent past to recruit candidates for an open seat.

Candidates will be asked to fill out an application and answer a series of questions. They will then appear at the second council meeting in September to answer those questions, along with any others an alder might ask, in person.

If there is more than one applicant, council members will write their choice for the seat on a paper ballot, and finance director and acting clerk Laurie Sullivan will read the results and swear in the new alder at the same meeting.