Improvements to Kayla’s Playground are rejected by Franklin Common Council


Kayla’s Playground is one of the few true gems in the city of Franklin. It’s a truly wonderful place.

And yet every time a decision has to be made about quite possibly the most marvelous achievement in the city’s history,  the powers that be go out of their way to make the process unnecessarily tedious and difficult. Here’s complete background on the roadblocks the project faced thanks to some obstructionists on the  Franklin Common Council.

Though the playground has been officially open since last October, additional site equipment/furnishings are necessary to complete the project. They were discussed at Tuesday night’s meeting of the Council.

The Parks Commission has recommended the purchase of 12 picnic tables (8 regular and 4 ADA, Americans with Disabilities Act), four (4) waste receptacles, and concrete bollards that would be placed in the newly developed patio area just outside of the playground. Since the tables and waste receptacles are heavy concrete items they would not be able to be moved easily. The bollards would be placed between the restroom and the play area to prevent vehicles from being driven back to the pavilion.

Wausau Tile would provide these items at a cost of $12,045. If the purchases are deemed appropriate for partial use of Park Impact Fees the cots could come down to $7,709. It should be noted that Kayla’s Playground is currently approximately $50,000 under budget.

This is a  no-brainer. It’s not rocket science. The playground is popular. So it’s drawing crowds. MORE tables would be a wise choice to accommodate folks.

However, this is Franklin we’re talking about.

The suddenly fiscally conservative Alderwoman Susanne Mayer immediately expressed a concern that the city was over-purchasing. She made a motion to reduce the number of tables from 12 to 6.

Alderman Steve Taylor said the neighbors keep calling him about the playground. He didn’t say why, but indicated a reduction in the number of tables was reasonable. So did Alderwoman Kristen Wilhelm.

Both Taylor and Wilhelm were careful to preface their support for taking away tables by saying the playground was a positive, an attempt to politically cover themselves.

Alderman Mark Dandrea said he was concerned about Mayer’s amendment from an ADA perspective.

“Because if you go to the ADA all you can do is get three people around it because you have one access to someone with a wheelchair,” said Andrea. “You are really limiting the potential use by any family to use half of the tables.”

Dandrea also noted the Council was splitting hairs because the project is under budget.

“Why be penny-wise and dollar foolish,” said Dandrea.

Alderwoman Mayer stuck to her motion saying a dozen tables would be “cluttered” and “non-workable.”

Interesting that the normally deer-in-the-headlights Mayer acknowledged she understood because of crowds at the playground that more trash receptacles were needed, but the same light bulb failed to go on when it came to the tables.

Mayer’s motion failed on a 3-3 tie vote.

The original motion to have 12 tables also failed on a 3-3 tie vote. Because Mayor Steve Olson was excused from the meeting he was not there to break either tie vote.

Alderwomen Wilhelm, Mayer, and Alderman Taylor voted to reduce the number of tables and against the original motion of a dozen tables.

The issue will be brought up again at the next Franklin Common Council meeting.

FINAL NOTES: Kristen Wilhelm and Steve Taylor did virtually nothing to help Kayla’s Playground become a reality. Let’s not forget that. They both stated again Tuesday night the playground in their view is at the wrong location so they’re carrying a grudge against the project that is bringing joy to thousands.

Wilhelm used the word “nice” to describe Kayla’s Playground. It was the nicest expression she could come up with. “Nice” is an incredible understatement when applied to Kayla’s Playground.

Taylor said, “It’s a good thing, it’s there,” a back-handed compliment, begrudgingly conceding the playground’s existence.  “Good” like “nice” is a major understatement.

I would hope that Taylor and Wilhelm either address Kayla’s Playground with the respect and proper description the project deserves or not say anything at all. Everyone knows their true feelings about the playground. They should refrain from further commentary that shows their negativity.

Alderwoman Mayer says six tables as opposed to 12 are still significant. I’m not sure on a busy day when families don’t have access to tables that they would agree.

UPDATE (4/21/16): They don’t call Kristen Wilhelm “whiny” for nothing.  As a response to my truthful blog she’s desperately attempting major damage control on social media.

She plays her usual game whenever criticized by claiming the critic must be lying. Sorry, Kristen. The meetings are recorded.  Anyone can listen, take notes, draw their own conclusions. Your statements and votes are on the record. If this is too tough for you (like moving the appointments to the end of Tuesday’s meeting because you said your voice wasn’t real strong) then I suggest you let someone else take over.

Kristen takes issue with my use of the word ‘rejected’ in this blog headline. Over and over she writes on social media that the tables were not rejected. Kristen needs to consult her dictionary.

Let’s go over this again. The option before the Council Tuesday night was a recommendation by the Parks Commission to install 12 tables at the playground. An amendment was immediately made to reduce the number to 6.  Kristen agreed with the idea. Following discussion Kristen and two others voted in favor of reducing the number. They rejected the original plan, the original recommendation.

When that failed there was another vote, this time on the plan to install 12 tables. Kristen and two others voted no. They rejected the entire proposal.

This point is also important as Kristen scrambles to save face. She claims the Council merely decided to hold the issue over until the next meeting. The fact is that only AFTER the two votes were taken was holding it over brought up. If holding it over was the real intent there would have been no amendment to reduce the number of tables. Instead, there would have been a call to delay the matter.

Kristen’s obstructionism on Kayla’s Playground is well documented. I encourage you to read the blog from last year that I link to above detailing the unconscionable actions and behavior by some aldermen on the playground. Now she incessantly brings up the current location of the playground that she opposed from the beginning and still does. She just can’t seem to get over that she didn’t get her way.  So she whines, which she is very good at. And after rehashing the past about what she thought was a better site she concludes that we need to move on. She needs to follow her own advice.

Rest assured Kristen will spend time between now and the next meeting to find excuses to crawl out from the hole she has dug herself.

7 thoughts on “Improvements to Kayla’s Playground are rejected by Franklin Common Council

  1. You should take some solace that one of the co-obstructionists of the Kayla Krew Playground project, namely 5th District alderman Doug Schmidt, was booted out of office in the last election. So much for running on the “obstructionist” platform. Who will be next?


  2. Pingback: My blog causes Franklin alderwoman to become unhinged | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  3. I also noticed a marvelous article in the new “light weight” NOW regarding a high school project involving the remodeling/finishing of a teacher’s basement. The article indicates that because of their involvement the project was completed at half the cost. I’m thinking of finishing my basement and was wondering if this is a routine service the high school intends to provide to all Franklin residents.

    This seems to be an unethical conflict of interest and a de facto taxpayer subsidy provided for the benefit of a private individual. Next time maybe the students could spend some time working for a more worthwhile cause that would benefit the entire community like Habitat for Humanity, the Franklin Historical Society, or even a project at the high school itself.


  4. Pingback: When it comes to Franklin’s Tablegate, “this blogger” is not the problem | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

  5. Pingback: THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2016: #4 | This Just In… From Franklin, WI

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