As you may know, the city has been negotiating with the Siepmann Group and Super Excavators ("Siepmann/Super Excavators") on an operating agreement to deposit clean fill in the 85-acre Sileno Property.
This property is located south of Burleigh Road and east of Lilly Road and was operated as a sand and gravel pit from 1921 to 1978. When operations stopped, nothing was done to remediate the property.
The goal of an operating agreement with Siepmann/Super Excavators is to stabilize the Sileno Property and make it safe for use by the public as a park and for the construction of up to 120 units of high-end multifamily housing, consistent with the current zoning. I am pleased to report that, at the city's insistence, Siepmann/Super Excavators have agreed there will be no nighttime activity at the site. The hours of operation will be from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, with no exceptions.
The city is negotiating with Siepmann/Super Excavators because they are local companies with excellent reputations and are willing to work cooperatively with the city government rather than proceed under Wisconsin Statute 85.193. That statute was a non-fiscal policy matter inserted in the 2011 state budget at the urging of special interests — the earth-movers. Its purpose was to effectively eliminate local control on fill operations if a landowner wished to accept clean fill from Wisconsin Department of Transportation projects. The city of Brookfield would still have to issue a Fill and Grading Permit and a Storm Water Management Permit. However, these are straightforward administrative acts by the city's Engineering Department pursuant to uniform standards and cannot be denied arbitrarily. Issuance of these permits does not involve policy-makers.
Throughout the city's negotiations with Siepmann/Super Excavators, both sides have sought to minimize the burden of the fill operation on area residents. We have limited the route trucks may take. We have put in safeguards to control dust and noise. We have provided for the cleaning and restoration of Burleigh Road. We have provided for a bypass lane, an acceleration lane and a two-lane hard-surfaced road from Burleigh Road into the Sileno Property. These actions will be done at the expense of the developer. To protect residences on the rim of the Sileno Property, the fill operation will proceed from the bottom of the pit and the overburden vegetation around the rim will be left in place.
This matter is driven by economics. The initial 1.8 million cubic yards of fill and the seven-year duration of the fill operation have been reduced to 1 million cubic yards of fill and a total five-year duration due to the city's willingness to step up and buy the 70 acres of parkland for $1.15 million — rather than just have it dedicated to the city. This is a major effort by the city to reduce the impact on area residents and is consistent with most parkland acquisitions we have done. The city would principally use funds accumulated in our Park Acquisition Fund and our Greenway Corridor Fund.
At the end of this process, the city will have a beautiful 70-acre park with a 23-acre lake, which would be up to 28 feet deep. Grading for this park would be done by Siepmann/Super Excavators during the five-year period. They will bring in topsoil and plant grass. The city would then put in the base and surface for the walking trails, driveway and a parking lot to assure access for the public and assure access for emergency services.
Now there is an old, overgrown sand and gravel pit, with parts that are unstable and unsafe. At the conclusion of this effort, there will be a beautiful, stable and safe park and a high-end multifamily housing development. Now, there are numerous trespassers — especially teenagers — putting themselves and others in danger. At the conclusion, there will be a passive park for all members of the public to enjoy safely.
There is much misinformation and misunderstanding about this project. The B.R.A.D. group with its characterization as a "dump" conjures up images of garbage being thrown into a lake and of substandard housing being constructed. That is wrong. Do not rely solely on the representations of someone who is asking you to sign a petition. Be wary. Take the time to be fully informed.
State law in play
Because of the massive Wisconsin Department of Transportation highway projects being undertaken nearby, the Sileno Property is particularly valuable at this time. A major cost with fill operations is the distance the fill has to be transported. If the city's agreement with Siepmann/Super Excavators were to falter, some suggest a benevolent charitable group would buy the Sileno Property and keep it largely in its current condition. It is much more likely that a company — perhaps from out of state — would buy the Sileno Property and proceed under Wisconsin Statute 85.193. Then, there may be no limit to the amount of fill trucked in, no limit to the time of the operation, far fewer safeguards and no park at the end.
State Rep. Dale Kooyenga and I have discussed a legislative proposal to help protect a municipality in Brookfield's position from this scenario. Such a bill will soon be introduced. This is a worthy effort. However, I understand that its enactment is an uphill battle and will not be accomplished soon — if at all.
I urge you to inform yourself fully about this matter — particularly before signing any petitions. The city is putting all relevant documents on its website, www.ci.brookfield.wi.us, as they become available. If you would like to discuss this matter with me, please call (262) 787-3525. If you would like me to speak to a group and explain the situation, please call me.
Finally, know that your city government is doing all that it can under difficult circumstances that have been thrust upon us and which we certainly did not seek. Our concern is first and foremost for the long-run best interests of this premier community, and doing what we can to lessen the burden on area residents.
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