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Wal-Mart in Jefferson

This letter is from James and Barb van Lieshout. Jim is a member of the Jefferson Development Commission. Barb once ran for City Council. It appeared in the Daily Union in early April.

March 28, 2005

Approximately 15 years ago the Jefferson Common Council had an opportunity to put in place the infrastructure to insure our economic development for a long period. Unfortunately that Council took a very short view and declined to put in place a by-pass. The results are easy to gauge; one simply has to see the development along STH 12 and 26, and in the Fort Atkinson downtown area to see how they used the by-pass to their benefit.

The election to be held next week is also a pivotal vote. The Council to be seated will in all probability decide as to the location of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. It is our firm belief that this proposal is simply the wrong development in the wrong place. To keep this letter short we will not detail the many issues except to ask the voters of Jefferson to drive to the Supercenter in Watertown. Once there, get out of your car and take in how that store is laid out-how it sits away from STH 26; see the wide expanse of land around it ready for development; see how nice the boulevards are laid out, how they tie in all the land; see how traffic flows along a FOUR lane highway-four lanes extending all the way into Watertown’s main intersection at STH 26 and Main St.

Now, compare that to the proposed site in Jefferson. Is there any space available now for surrounding development - NO; any room for wide boulevards to direct traffic away from STH 26 - NO; any chance for a four lane highway to move traffic safely, efficiently, and quickly - NO. This is a small, oddly shaped tract, located in a natural traffic bottleneck.

We both welcome economic development. We lived in Middleton when the areas west of the City went from farmland to full development. Our next home was in Kimberly, a village in the middle of the area known collectively as the Fox Cities. While there we saw the installation of the four lane bypass (441) and the beginning of all the development that now exists there. The development of these areas was not done just for the sake of “doing something” - it was done with great deliberation and with the infrastructure in place.

If, as us, you favor development but that which is planned and will benefit the entire City, then we recommend you vote for two of the following at-large candidates: Tim Bare, Peggy Beyer, or Dave McGrath; in District B, Scott Howard.


James B. and Barbara M. van Lieshout