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Minocqua Makes Offer on Island Parking Lot Purchase

Town of Minocqua

Minocqua officials will soon be asking the town electorate for permission to purchase a private parking lot on the Island, following the town board’s unanimous vote Wednesday to proceed with the offer to purchase.

The lot in question is owned by the Campanile Center for the Arts and is adjacent to its building, a former church. Currently, the 50-vehicle lot is used for merchant parking during the week. In turn, the town maintains the lot, principally removing snow.

Town chairman Mark Hartzheim said the Campanile Center was looking to sell in order to use the proceeds to pay down debt the non-profit organization has. The past year has been a struggle because the center has not been able to host fundraising concerts and other programs.

The purchase price is $600,000, with the town’s share being $300,000 and private interests picking up the remainder through donations, he said. The town plans to borrow its share of the funding rather than tap the general fund because interest rates are very low currently.

The town plans to keep it a public parking lot and likely would look at least one other area for alternative merchant parking.

Hartzheim said the downtown businesses depend on adequate parking for customers. Even so, on busy summer weekends the Island’s parking lots and curbside parking are filled. Visitors to the Min-Aqua Bats waterskiing shows also use the parking lot extensively.

Because Campanile Center is a tax-exempt organization, purchasing the parking lot won’t reduce the town’s tax base, he added. The town had its assessor look at the parking lot to arrive at a fair purchase price. He came up with a $490,000 figure, Hartzheim said. But it’s value for a developer would likely be higher, he noted, adding three of the four combined lots face the lake.

The town board will meet again in special session Friday to tweak the offer of purchase, he said. The minor language changes won’t affect the substance of the offer, said Hartzheim.

The town wants to close on the deal by April 5. They are eyeing Thursday, March 11 at 6 p.m. to hold the special town meeting for the electorate vote. The town needs electorate approval at either a special town meeting or the annual meeting to buy or sell town real estate.

“We are confident that we can get it done,” the town chairman said. “It’s a win-win in many ways for our downtown businesses.”

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