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Minocqua electors approve home purchase

November 22, 2019 by Brian Jopek

Minocqua electors voted unanimously Tuesday evening to authorize the town’s purchase of property at 408 East Chicago Avenue. 

The house and yard — totalling approximately a quarter acre — was owned by Andy Organiscak who passed away in September 2018, and is one of the final three privately owned lots on the block that also has a municipal parking lot, town hall/community center and police station. 

The police station is next door to the east of the Organiscak property. 

The town board met in special session Oct. 29 to decide whether or not to proceed with the electors meeting.

“We’ve really operated under the understanding since 2002 that the town board has received the authorization from the electorate to purchase property on this block with the idea of this being a municipal or government service block,” town chairman Mark Hartzheim said then. “One of the reasons was one of the last times we purchased property here it was felt the town could act more quickly to do that if they had that authorization. It’s not an authorization for the whole island — just this block.”

Hartzheim’s comments were a reference to a meeting of the electors the town conducted on Jan. 22, 2002, which ultimately resulted in construction of the current police station. 

One of the houses involved in that approved purchase ended up getting moved to Flambeau Street across from the Campanile Center and is now the home of the Minocqua Museum. 

Even though it was felt the town had authorization to proceed under the auspices of that January 2002, electors meeting, Hartzheim indicated at the Oct. 29 town board meeting the wording of the 2002 motion warranted another electors meeting just to be sure. 

Hartzheim briefly went over some of the same information for electors Tuesday, stating if the town didn’t purchase the property, there may not be another chance “in any of our lifetimes to acquire the property again.”

As far as uses, Hartzheim said there have been discussions about making the property a green space or expanding the public parking lot. 

Having someone remove the house and garage instead of demolishing it has also been discussed. 

Minocqua resident Tom Church asked about the possibility of utilizing the house as a rental. 

Hartzheim said that had been raised as a possibility. 

“The concern was the town not feeling like it wanted to be a landlord,” he said. “We’re not exactly sure of the condition and what needs to be brought up date in there. We know cosmetically, there’s probably a fair amount of work that would have to be done. So, the small amount of discussion we had wasn’t gravitating in that direction.”

“But it could be left open?” Church asked. 

“It’s a possibility, yes,” Hartzheim told him, adding another element to the use discussion was since parking in downtown Minocqua was at such a premium, “why would you leave the building any longer than it has to be?”

“Ultimately, those are decisions that have to be made,” Hartzheim said. “But, that is one ... it hasn’t been ruled out yet but I didn’t see the board going down that road.”

The electors meeting took only minutes with former town chairman Don Gauger making the motion to purchase the property and the vote was unanimous — 17 in favor, zero against — to purchase it for $150,000. 

“I think it’s safe to say the list price and sale price of this property would be well in excess of that,” Hartzheim said shortly before the vote. “Certainly in excess of that.”

Town board meeting

Once the electors meeting was concluded, the town board went into regular session. 

It was a brief meeting as well, but the town board approved a bid of $31,799 from Marthaler Chevrolet Buick for a 2020 Chevrolet Silverado extended cab pickup. 

Public works director Mark Pertile said there would be other items added to the 3/4 ton truck. 

His department has $50,000 to spend toward the purchase and outfitting of the truck, which will also include purchase of a snowplow Pertile estimated to be between $5,000 and $7,000. 

The town board also:

• Approved a request from the Oneida County Land Information Office for the naming of Park Place Lane, Waters Edge Lane and Whistling Wind Lane. 

• Approved a beer and liquor license for th new owners of the former Minocqua Pizza Company. Skip Slade said the soft opening is scheduled for Dec. 1 with the new business’s first official day Dec. 8. 

Brian Jopek may be reached via email at [email protected]

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