Citizens take a swing at Intersport plan

Sports complex takes criticism at county board meeting

By Mike Heine

(Published Feb. 18, 2007, 4:08 p.m.)

Walworth County will continue to draft lease agreements for the county board to consider regarding Intersport's proposal to build a youth baseball and other sport complex here.

Despite supervisors hearing more than a few public comments against the plan minutes before and plenty of phone calls from constituents in recent weeks, a motion to reconsider last month's 14-10 decision to approve a concept plan failed by four votes at Tuesday's Walworth County Board meeting.

Needing a two-thirds majority, Supervisor Bob Arnold's motion to review and revote on the concept garnered 13 'yes' votes and 10 'no' votes.

Supervisors Rick Stacey, Ann Lohrmann, Sandra Wagie-Troemel, Jerry Grant, Larry Hilbelik, Margaret Downing, Dorothy Burwell, Al Polyock, Alan Kupsik and Pauline Parker cast 'no' votes. Supervisors Kathy Ingersoll and Randy Hawkins, who had both voted in favor of the concept plans, were absent and were counted as a 'no' vote.

County officials and outside counsel will continue to draft a lease-to-buy agreement for 250 acres of county-owned land off County NN east of Elkhorn where Intersport wants to locate its facility.

Even after hearing comments Tuesday night against the facility, Intersport Chief Financial Officer Dave Boblink still feels confident in building to attrack youth baseball players to Walworth County.

"We still feel this ultimately will benefit the community and it will be embraced and be something to be proud of," Boblink said.

What were some of the public comments, both for and against the plan, supervisors heard at Tuesday's county board meeting?

"This project is going to have a major (positive) economic impact... I'd like to see something that is not filling our school system." Gary Wallem, Elkhorn.

"(The county board) did not look over it very well. I feel that you should have investigated it a lot more." Kathleen Tober, vice president of the Walworth County Farm Bureau.

"I believe this is an opportunity that Walworth County cannot let slip through its hands. The project has come to our table without being sought out." Kathleen Seeberg, executive director of the Walworth County Visitors Bureau.

"Tourism, agriculture and industry are the economic engines in this county. Whatever can be done should be done to ensure continued growth of economic drivers in our area." Bruce Bradshaw, member, Lake Geneva West Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.

"Reconsider this proposition due to the fact that you entered into it so rapidly." Graham Olson, Elkhorn.

"The county board is setting a precedent on the value of farm land. By offering $3,000 per acre, you're setting a precedent in value of land around the county farm (land)." Fred J. Stopple, Elkhorn.

"Maximize the county's return on investment. Ensure the public has confidence in the way the material is handled. For property (valued) more than $20,000 it takes a resolution to declare it surplus. It shall be disposed of in a manner most advantageous to the county." Bill Jacques, Elkhorn, citing Walworth County surplus property ordinances.

"I contacted two supervisors and asked, 'Are we going to be land-locked?' They said, 'We don't know.' 'How many jobs?' 'Don't know.' 'Will it be tax exempt?' 'Don't know.' 'Who will pay for infrastructure?' 'Don't know.'" Ralph Williams, Elkhorn.

"I just thought it would be great for the community to have economic growth; to have young people in the community. To retail in the area, it will be wonderful." Stephanie Leuptow, Elkhorn.


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