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April 2014

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City of Oconomowoc eyes arbitration, eminent domain over land sought for community center parking

City wants the land for community center parking

City of Oconomowoc - The city is hoping to settle an issue over the purchase of property across from the community center before having to resort to eminent domain. The city wants to use the parcel at 219 W. Wisconsin Ave. for parking to serve the community center, but ongoing negotiations haven't been successful, said Mayor Jim Daley.

On Monday, the city sent out its preliminary agenda for Tuesday's Common Council meeting, listing a binding arbitration agreement for 219 W. Wisconsin Ave., or eminent domain. Daley explained the city hopes the arbitration goes forward and it doesn't have to go to eminent domain.

"What we're trying to do is work with the owner to say, 'We have different ideas on the value of the property, and we have a duty to taxpayers to negotiate an agreeable amount.' If not, then we will get an arbitrator to look at it from a neutral point of view," said Daley.

According to Waukesha County tax records, the property is owned by John A. Haas and Ken Herro. Its estimated fair market value is listed as $217,000 at tax.waukeshacounty.gov.

The council has held a closed session on the property recently, and Daley declined to go into details of the ongoing negotiations, or what the city has offered the property owners for the parcel.

"If they're not going to agree to work it out in arbitration, we could consider eminent domain. We're just trying to be transparent, and we don't want to not give notice" that the city is working on purchasing the land for community center parking, said Daley.

The final Common Council agenda is released late Friday afternoon, which will show a more clear picture of what direction the city expects to head on the issue.

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