By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Gays Mills pedestrian-bike trail is out for bids
GM Village Hall

GAYS MILLS - The Gays Mills Village Board took on a lengthy, and at times complicated, agenda at their Monday night meeting this week.

On of the first items on the agenda was authorizing bidding on pedestrian-bike trail project from the Apple Land Business Park on Highway 131 to Marketplace convenience store.

The trail, which is estimated to cost around $340,000 when completed is the largest on the list of projects that will be funded by revenue produced in TID #1. That’s the Tax Increment District that includes BAPI. The revenue was produced because the TID directed all the revenue produced by the increased value of developed land to the village because of the TID designation.

Without the TID, the increased tax revenue would have been shared by the village, school district, tech school district and the county. When the TID directed all the increased revenue to the village and the expenses were covered, the excess accumulated created a surplus, which is anticipated to exceed $500,000 before TID #1 expires.

Vierbicher and Associates worked with the village to create list of projects on which to spend the money before a deadline that would have returned the money to all the other taxing entities. The bike-pedestrian trail is the most expensive of the projects and includes a small, but relatively expensive, bridge over a creek.

The board also passed a resolution seeking a DNR Urban Forestry Grant. Gays Mills Village Forester Cindy Kohles explained the situation that she, along with the village tree board, saw facing the village.

Kohles outlined two important projects facing the village. One is getting Autumn Blaze Maples trimmed in the business park.

The forester told the board proper pruning would be necessary to stop the trees from becoming high hazard trees in the future. She called the work technically difficult and advised hiring a professional arborist to do the work at a price of $1,000 to $1,200 a pruning. She advised the village that three prunings done at two-year intervals would be necessary to get the problem corrected.

Kohles also told the board a row of ash trees near the BAPI facility in the business park would also have to be removed. The forester also suggested the village’s department of public works would have to complete other forestry projects in the village.

The forester explained the goal in writing the grant was to commit to the work needed for a $15,000 matching grant.

“It’s work we have to do that will be the match,” Kohles told the board.

Village trustee Kim Pettit moved to approve applying for the 2019 Urban Forestry Grant and Aaron Fortney seconded the motion.

In concluding, Kohles noted that a master gardener has taken on working on the situation with plantings at the Log Cabin Village Park and is making significant progress in reviving the area.

The ongoing discussion of unlicensed and inoperable vehicles parked in the village in violation of an ordinance was resumed. Village resident and former board member Jim Lomas said that he personally knew of six such vehicles in the village that were in violation of the ordinance.

Lomas made it clear he was dissatisfied with the progress the village was making getting the vehicles removed. He questioned how the village could enforce that ordinance.

Gays Mills Village President Harry Heisz explained that the village has an agreement with the county and that county sheriff’s deputies would deliver citations for junk car ordinance violations.

Heisz acknowledged the point Jim Lomas made that there were unlicensed cars parked on property in the village that appeared to be violation of the ordinance and that four people had talked to him about their concern for the situation.

Heisz said he had looked at two of them. In one situation, it appeared an individual was attempting to build one car from the parts of two cars.

“Does it have a license?” Lomas asked. “It doesn’t matter if someone is working on it. Does it have a license?”

Lomas said he knew of six cars that weren’t licensed and were in violation of the village ordinance.

Heisz said he knew of three.

A frustrated Jim Lomas said the signs at the edge of the village welcoming people should be changed from Gay Mills to “Junk Mills.”

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Heisz said in response.

Then, the discussion changed to demo derby cars, which are stripped and of course not licensed.

Lomas said those cars and others should be covered with a tarp.

In a move to increase interest in get housing built on village-owned lots in the relocation area adjacent to the Gays Mills Mercantile Center and the Marketplace, the board agreed to lower the purchase price by $2,000 to $6,000. When the cost of sewer and electric hookup were added to the price, it came out just over $10,000.

Speaking in defense of the move, village president Harry Heisz said it was a way to stimulate interest in building housing on those lots. He also noted that the village gets none of the money for selling the lots. It is all sent to the state to help defray the cost s of the project.

A motion was made by Aaron Fortney and seconded by Petit to request the state allow the village to lower the purchase price of a village-owned lots by $2,000. It was passed by the board. 

Longtime Gays Mills resident and former village employee Ralph Lomas appeared before the board to discuss sidewalks, fire hydrants and cemetery maintenance.

Lomas told the board that there were some bad places on the Main Street sidewalk, including to sidewalk 'stones’ or segments in front of the Village Greenhouse and the Laundromat.

“They should be fixed,” Lomas told the board. “Someone could fall on it and get hurt, and then the village is liable for it.”

Ralph Lomas then pointed to several problematic fire hydrants, including one at the corner of Highway 131 and Orin. 

“The last time I did it, I couldn’t turn it on or off,” Lomas recalled.

In answer to a question from Heisz, Chellevold said the village employees try to turn on every fire hydrant in the village twice during the year.

There have been a couple of complaints about color and smell of the village water at times.

“I thought I was going crazy,” village trustee Krista Eitsert said. “About once a week, I’d think the water was discolored or smelly.”

Chellevold said that seven or eight hydrants were not flushed this spring because other more pressing situations had to be dealt with.

Finally, Ralph Lomas addressed cemetery maintenance. He noted black walnut trees had begun growing in portions of the cemetery. 

He also noted that the shrubbery growing at the front of the cemetery that was partially removed, needs to be totally removed and the area should be seeded.

After some discussion it was decided the hedge bushes should be completely removed this fall and a new hedge should be replanted in the spring.

In other business, the Gays Mills Village Board:

• learned the electric motor at the pool might have to be replaced at the end of the season because of excessive wear

 • heard the merry-go-round and two wooden benches in the park near the pool will be fixed

• learned the pool had 2,080 swimmers for the season and that the swimming lessons were well-attended.

• also learned that pool manager Lysianne Peacock may be headed to the Onalaska YMCA, but would still be interested in teaching the lifeguard course to local kids at a savings to the village and the students

• heard a report from Brad Niemcek indicating the shared-use kitchen, known as the Kickapoo Culinary Center, was performing reasonably well financially

• approved requests to close Railroad Street between Main Street and Grove Street, and Gay Street from Main Street to Orin Street during Apple Fest.

• tabled a request for a land lease of 204 Railroad Street by Carmen Stankovich until the department of public works can remove some dead trees that might pose a danger going forward

• heard about proposed improvements to the 212 Main Street property, the former Gays Mills Community Building, that included improving sidewalks and entrances

• also heard bids for roof repairs of 212 Main Street would also be solicited

• declined allowing an art exhibit by a Boscobel artist in the  Gays Mills Community Commerce Center  because of liability concerns and other matters

• approved the Crawford County Hazard Mitigation Plan 2018-2022 to keep the village protected in the event fo future disasters

• approved a Telecommuter Forward! Certification Resolution affirming to the state that the village was committed to supporting telecommuting within the community

• approved an offer to purchase Lot 6 at 509 Sunset Ridge Avenue in the relocation area

• agreed to pay for cement and labor to finish some unfinished portion of the floor in Suite 126 in the Gays Mills Mercantile Center for a tenant relocating form another suite

• received the 2017 Audit Report and Communications from the village’s accounting firm

• scheduled the next village board meeting for Monday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m.