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Electors Approve Minocqua Parking Lot Purchase


Shoppers and event-goers will continue to be able to use a large parking lot in downtown Minocqua after the electorate Thursday unanimously approved its purchase by the town.

Backed by a heavy contingent of Island business interests, the vote was 55-0 to purchase the private lot from the Campanile Center for the Arts for $600,000. The town plans to turn it into a public parking lot.

The Golta Family, who owns the Gaslight Square Shoppes, Otto’s Beer & Brat Garden and several vacant parcels on the Island, will cover a substantial portion of the cost with a $300,000 donation.

Three of the four combined parcels of the parking lot front West Park Avenue, and they overlook Lake Minocqua.

The town assessor placed the value of the lot at $490,000. 

After a short presentation, town chairman Mark Hartzheim opened the special town meeting for questions and discussion. There was none and Tom Cote made the motion to purchase. The special town meeting lasted just under six minutes.

The Min-Aqua Bats Water Ski Club also kicked in $7,500 towards the town’s share. The town will borrow the remaining amount rather than tap the general fund because interest rates on loans are very low currently.

Ski club president Jasper Fisher said in a letter, “The parking lot ... is essential not only to our shows, but also to the community of Minocqua at large.” Later on, he wrote, “The town has given so much to our organization, thus we would like to reciprocate that generosity however we can.”

In turn, Hartzheim thanked the Goltra Family and the water ski club for their contributions. He noted it was a “win-win” outcome for all parties.

On its website, the Campanile Center board of directors says the non-profit organization had been carrying a “tremendous debt” since it opened in 2007 in the former Saint Patrick’s Catholic Church.

“The Board of Directors met last summer and concluded that to ensure the Campanile continues to fulfill its mission of developing, promoting and supporting the arts in the Lakeland community, aggressive action needed to be taken and (we) considered selling its property and possible relocation of the Campanile itself.”

The directors decided instead to approach the town to see if it was interested in buying the parking lot.

“Selling the parking lot will help eliminate a large portion of its debt and our focus can turn to much needed capital repairs on our aging facility,” the board of directors’ message added.

This is the town’s second land purchase in two years to increase or secure public parking on the Island.

Last year, electors authorized the town to buy a lot with a one-story house at 408 E. Chicago Avenue, adjacent to the police station. The cost was $150,000. The house was later demolished and the adjacent garage sold. The town plans to blacktop that lot.

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