Grove forms committees to plan stage project

By Dave Fidlin

Correspondent

Residents throughout Union Grove are being asked to help the village with planning for the new entertainment stage project, though concerns over who would serve on specific committees were raised at a meeting this week.

The Village Board on March 11 favored Village Administrator Michael Hawes’ recommendation of creating four sub-committees, whose members will assist in planning the project.

Last month, Racine County officials announced the village was the recipient of a $100,000 grant for the construction of a general-purpose stage.

Village officials, in turn, have trumpeted the proposal as a way to bolster family-friendly events and create a more walkable environment within the community.

With the grant amount set in stone, Hawes said the village’s next step in the process is to plan the series of logistics involved with the amenity – including where exactly the stage will be constructed.

Four committees have been announced to help with all of the granular details. The committees are devoted to site selection, design and bidding, fundraising and events and rules and governance.

Hawes and the Village Board agreed each of the committee meetings should be publicly noticed, which means members will be required to adhere to such open meetings protocol as properly posting the dates, times and venues for each gathering and recording minutes. Residents and other interested persons will be allowed to attend the meetings.

“It helps us keep an organized process,” Hawes said. “This is a very inclusive, unique process.”

While the board agreed with the committee structure and the need for public notices, concerns about specific membership were raised.

Hawes presented the board with a draft of the committee assignments. Several residents are serving on multiple committees, and, in a few instances, couples or family members are serving on the same or multiple groups.

Trustee Christopher Gallagher said he was concerned the arrangement could lead to unintended consequences.

“I’m just concerned we’ll get a weighted average here,” Gallagher said. “(Family members will) likely vote the same way.”

Trustee Jan Winget offered up similar concerns, particularly for committee members who are next-door neighbors. A simple conversation could result in open meetings law violations, Winget pointed out.

“Will the neighbors talk off line?” Winget said. “If they talk over the fence, so to speak … I’m just concerned with that fact.”

Hawes said he and other village staffers within the clerk’s office could offer up instructive information to the committee members, similar to the pointers given to newly elected officials on the Village Board.

None of the issues taken up within the four committees will be binding, meaning any votes will be forwarded on to the decision-making Village Board for final action.

“We may need to thoroughly vet what they have to say because of some of the potential bias,” Gallagher said.

Regardless of who serves on which committee, Trustee Gordon Svendsen said he believes the process will be valuable.

“We all know it takes a lot of effort to plan something like this,” Svendsen said.

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