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Glendale's portable stage in need of significant repairs or replacement

Mayor vows no city funds will be used

Oct. 9, 2012

Glendale - City officials are working out how to replace the portable stage used for Independence Day celebrations and the Music in the Glen concert series, which has been decommissioned after nearly 20 years of use.

Alderman Richard Wiese presented cost estimates for repairing the semitrailer stage to the Common Council on Monday. The options include purchasing a new portable stage or building a permanent stage.

"We were well aware that the deck the performers move around upon was in disrepair," said Wiese, adding that additional maintenance like brake and tire work - among other things - would be needed to make the trailer functional again. "Do we make that investment, or go with one of the other options, long term?"

Officials said the difficulty of the project would be fundraising. Mayor Jerome Tepper said he would be reluctant to fund the stage out of the city budget while areas like the fire department are facing cutbacks. At the same time, he and members of the council said they wouldn't want to contend for private fundraising that would be needed if the North Shore Library decides to expand its facilities.

"If the taxpayers are involved," Tepper said, "I would rather not lay off a firefighter than (fund the stage)."

The council decided to create an advisory committee to explore the issue and report back in December after more is known about whether the library expansion project will proceed.

Repair, replace or build?

According to estimates compiled by Wiese, repairing the trailer would cost $25,000, and labor costs for stage setups and removals would cost approximately $14,000 annually, resulting in a net estimated cost of about $39,000 to repair and operate the stage in 2013.

The replacement portable stage chosen by Wiese would cost approximately $118,000 up front and $1,800 annually in labor costs for setups and removals.

In conjunction with the Milwaukee County Park System, Wiese reviewed two sites at the Glen, one in the northeast corner when the concert series is currently held and one in the southwest corner presently occupied by a grove of scrub trees. According to Wiese, the county chose the latter because it would require less fill, site work and would facilitate handicapped access.

Including site work, an added storage area, concrete and the cost of the shelter, the permanent stage chosen by Wiese would cost approximately $150,000. The advantage of the permanent stage, said Wiese, would be reduced operational costs year after year.

"There would be minimal upkeep," Wiese said, "and the city wouldn't have to use any man-hours for setup."

Fundraising concerns

Regardless of which option the council would choose, Tepper said the city shouldn't pay for it out of a tightened budget that has squeezed other departments.

Wiese said that, depending on what the council decides, private fundraising would be the preferred option.

"The intent is that (the project) would hopefully be revenue neutral to the city," he said.

Alderman Elliott Moeser noted that, with the North Shore Library deliberating an expansion, the city should try to keep from drawing donations away from one project or the other.

"We may be engaging in another project dealing with the library," Moeser said. "We have to be careful in a city of our size that we don't step on each other."

Tepper said representatives of the library's member communities will be meeting in the next month to discuss the expansion project. The results of that meeting, paired with the findings of the advisory committee, should give the council a better sense of what to do when it revisits the issue in December, he said.

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