Mike Zimmerman at a listening session on Ballpark Commons
In today’s print edition of the Milwaukee Business Journal Franklin businessman Mike Zimmerman expresses disappointment and frustration at personal attacks he’s received over his Ballpark Commons proposal.
The article by Sean Ryan chronicles the rocky road the plan has been on the past couple of years. The report is not available online, but here are some key excerpts:
“People ask me, ‘hey, would you ever do that again,’ and I’m not sure I would,” Zimmerman said. “I didn’t realize how difficult this is. It’s certainly not for the faint of heart. This is a three-year sales cycle. It requires somebody to fund that, too. That’s a huge risk, not knowing what is on the other side.”
“I always felt Franklin lacked a sense of community and I always felt it was important to keep people spending money in the community to support it,” (Alderwoman Kristen) Wilhelm said. “There’s no downtown, no central gathering area and no large place for community events. Mike Zimmerman seems to want to create that, so I think the project deserves a shot.”
“The elected officials saw all of the boom in Oak Creek and everything that was happening there, and they were looking at the mess they had in Franklin and said this is not good,” (Alderman Steve) Taylor said.
“It (a public hearing) was threaded with personal attacks, which I didn’t appreciate,” Zimmerman said. “It was understood. A lot of them were my neighbors, so that is hard when you think you are doing something good for the city.”
Ald. Taylor recalled a conversation he had with (Franklin director of economic development Aaron) Hertzberg, whose job it was to provide answers to questions raised by elected officials. Taylor remembered telling him that if Ballpark Commons dies, there would be little reason for Franklin to have a development director because no company would want to attempt a project there.
And here comes the Franklin quote of the year:
“Franklin would be a dead community,” Taylor said. “How can you have a guy that is born and raised here, spending a lot of money on a land fill already, wanting to do something else, and you kill it twice? Who is going to touch us? We have a reputation already of being difficult as a community because of some of our ordinances and past history. Developers are watching, and if things go right, I think development breeds development.”
“We’re talking about potentially $20 million here for one development that has lots of risk associated with it in terms of the foundation of the project. I want to make sure the ducks are in a row before I jump up and down,” said Franklin mayor Steve Olson.
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