The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Rare Political Idea (All Politics Are Local Edition)

For those of you who are unaware, I live in the village of Pewaukee, Wisconsin. I have to emphasize the word "village", though, because there are two Pewaukees - a city and a village.

Now, for the longest time, I had no idea why there were two Pewaukees. And at the same time, I heard all about these merger talks that would consolidate the two into one larger city. I kept wondering to myself, what exactly happened that caused this whole Pewaukee-within-a-Pewaukee thing?

Then, I happened to find out while randomly listening to that Biggest Stick In The State one afternoon. See, it used to be that there was the Village of Pewaukee and the Township of Pewaukee. The township was the traditional, old "Northwest Territories subdivision" of a county - one of sixteen in the county of Waukesha. Thing is, Pewaukee Township was located right next to the city of Waukesha - right by where the airport is located, and right where a couple of interchanges are located off I-94.

A couple of shopping plazas were built, and suddenly people in the township got annexation anxiety; the fear that the larger city would simply "eat up" the township's land and develop it, causing the township to lose tax revenue and a tax base. So, the township decided to incorporate as a city, essentially to "block" Waukesha from taking any more land. This happened in 1999 - about the same time that I moved to the village.

Now, this isn't all that bad, and I can understand why they did it, but I'm thinking that the township and the village should have gone in together on this incorporation thing instead of the township going off on its own to become a city. Because the two parts didn't do this, there is now a very unusual situation in Waukesha County: the city of Pewaukee surrounds the village of Pewaukee. In fact, you can travel down Capitol Drive and see two signs for "Pewaukee" - one that says "Population 11,783" and another that says "Population 8,170". The latter is for the village, while the former is for the city.

What this has led to has been a large boondoggle for both the city and village as millions of dollars have been spent on a "merger study" between the two Pewaukees. This wouldn't have been such a big issue if two major things didn't happen while the study was taking place:
  1. The Village and the City both opened brand-new village/town halls, and
  2. The City decided to do away with its police force, opting instead to "lease" the services of the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department.
The latter move irked a lot of people in the Village, because it's a little like a couple who are engaged to be married and the groom-to-be decides to sell off his Mercedes 600SEL for a smart ForTwo coupe. Yeah, it's practical, but his wife doesn't care for small cars.

So the question is, how do we in the village deal with this whole merger thing, especially when it would mean closing down our brand new village hall and shutting down our police station - both of which would leave a rather large hole in the middle of the new city? This is essentially why the merger talks have dragged on and on and on (and not just over water and sewer issues).

I have a solution, though, that might make sense:

The city of Pewaukee Lake, Wisconsin.

Now, before there's too much outcry over this ("We were Pewaukee FIRST!" and all that), think of this: the Positively Pewaukee people have been advertising the businesses downtown as "Pewaukee On The Lake" a lot. And the village is located on the eastern shore of Pewaukee Lake, so it's not like it's a misnomer.

So how about it, people of the village? Instead of going all crazy over merging with Pewaukee, let's strike out on our own as the City of Pewaukee Lake. What's four more letters on outgoing mail, anyways?