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Intersport decision may wait until April

County, company still negotiating contract terms

By Mike Heine/The Week

(Published March 7, 2007, 5:41 p.m.)

Opinions I Comment

It looks as though Intersport's proposal for a multi-sport complex on the city's east side will linger another month. Or it could die on the County Board Room floor Tuesday night.

Walworth County Administrator David Bretl said he is confident the county board will not make a decision on a controversial lease-to-buy land deal between the county and Intersport at Tuesday night's monthly board meeting.

"We're shooting for the April county board cycle," Bretl said. "Those negotiations are still taking place."

The first amended agenda, posted Wednesday, does not have an item for the board to discuss Intersport's proposal.

Bretl said he wanted the county board to have time to digest what will be a complex document.

"From soup to nuts, there are a lot of areas (to be discussed)," Bretl said. "For example, the payment, the taxability of the parcel, the timetables of the build out, obtaining permits, what happens in the event of defaults.

"I think the board's (January) approval was just that, conceptual. There is a lot of detail that has to be discussed and flushed out."

Intersport Chief Financial Officer David Boblink said the company has not discussed its course of action if the board postpones its decision on the land deal. Intersport had hoped for a summer groundbreaking and an opening in 2008 if an agreement was reached with the county and if the city of Elkhorn agreed to rezone the land for such a complex.

Boblink said if the board needs another month to decide, the company would not walk away from its proposal.

"We're still working in the mode of lets work to get this thing through before April," Boblink said.

However, Supervisor Dan Kilkenny Wednesday afternoon requested the county board reconsider a January resolution to pass the proposal "in concept."

He wants supervisors to re-vote on the concept proposal Tuesday night, but needs a two-thirds majority to suspend the rules and bring the resolution back to the floor.

A similar effort by Supervisor Bob Arnold failed last month. Needing 17 votes, Arnold's motion for reconsideration got 13 votes. Two supervisors were absent and their votes were counted as nays.

Intersport officials still feel its proposal will pass from the county board onto the city of Elkhorn for zoning consideration, if not this month than soon.

"Based on our discussions with members of the community and the county board supervisors, we still have the support necessary," Boblink said. "A majority of people on the board and in the community feel and recognize that this is going to be good for the community. We're confident that this is how it's going to come out."

The county board approved the concept resolution with a 14-10 vote in January.

Intersport's concept for a facility to eventually have up to 20 baseball diamonds, 10 soccer fields and several basketball gymnasiums has drawn heavy criticism from citizens.

One of the main concerns is the below-market-value proposed sale price of $3,000 per acre of prime agricultural land close to two major highways. The proposed site is off County NN behind the county Judicial Center.

Other concerns expressed by citizens in public meeting and letters to newspapers have been limited free access to the facility by county residents and children, increased traffic, excess lighting and noise, the effects on infrastructure such as water, sewers, roads and police, and putting a massive sports complex near a hospital, jail and county-run nursing home. If a new Lakeland School were ever built, it would also be very near the sports complex.


It is anticipated that the public will still comment on the Intersport proposal to the county board at Tuesday night's monthly meeting. The meeting is at 6 p.m. in the County Board Room inside the Walworth County Government Center, 100 W. Walworth St., Elkhorn.

If the proposal is delayed until April, that meeting will be on Tuesday, April 10, same time, same place.


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