There's promise for Pewaukee bell tower
City official is optimistic most recent plan will be approved
City of Pewaukee - Bell Tower Memorial Inc. has to wait for the next Common Council meeting, on Jan. 7, to see how much support the city is willing to give another Lake Country bell tower proposal.
That's nothing compared to how long Roland Perschon has been waiting.
The 84-year-old man donated the bells, cast in England by the same folks who created the Liberty Bell and Big Ben, back in 1995. Since then support has come and gone. First, the Village Board earmarked $65,000 for it but apparently took it back after costs climbed and private donors were hard to find. Waukesha County Technical College apparently expressed some interest in the project for a while. Finally, Foundations Bank in Pewaukee backed the project in 2010, but allegedly withdrew after a series of financial losses.
"I think (Perschon) has a good chance," Harlen Clinkenbeard, Pewaukee city planner, said.
Clinkenbeard said that a committee, Bell Tower Memorial Inc., which is completely independent from municipal government, has been working with the Plan Commission to get the project off the ground. The committee includes Perschon, Jean Miller and Steven Peterman. The committee has hired an architectural firm, TWP Architecture in Elmgrove, to design it. The next meeting with the Common Council will determine where to put it.
"We are trying very, very hard to get this built," Peterman said.
The brick structure is proposed to be adjacent to the Pilgrims Rest Cemetery on Busse Road and the tower would be three-stories high. The change-ringing bells would sit at the top and the specially trained bell ringers would pull the ropes in the middle.
"There are literally millions of different formulas of math for different ways to ring the bells. (The ringers) all take their place for each kind of formula and take their turn," Clinkenbeard said.
The first floor is set aside for displays and other educational things. The site will be surrounded by a garden, where donors can purchase bricks. If any readers are interested in purchasing a memoriam brick, they can contact Peterman at TWP Architecture.
With the design in hand and the bells ready to go, they will need the city's support before they can move on to the fundraising. The city can lease out just the spot were the tower will be built and the city can maintain the parking lot and grass. Clinkenbeard said this would be easy for the city to maintain because it already takes care of the adjacent cemetery. Otherwise they could ask the bell tower committee to purchase the entire parcel and maintain it themselves.
"He's got a good chance if the city goes along with the proposal. Then it's up to the committee to go forward and raise the money," Clinkenbeard said.
Perschon's bells were donated (estimated gift of more than $100,000) but they'll have to raise about $1 million to get the tower built.
"It would be unique. We'd be the only city in Wisconsin with change-ringing bells … and because it's being planned as a veteran and family memorial, it would be nice," Clinkenbeard said.
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