City of Waukesha approves sewer service for Town Hall

Mike Laska
Published on: 10/8/2013

Town of Waukesha Chairman John Marek said the city's Common Council's approval to allow Town Hall to connect to its sanitary sewer system was a much-needed step forward.

"It's a clear representation of the city willing to work with the town with regards to the issues like providing city sewer and water and not require annexation," Marek said.

Annexation was momentarily a concern as the department of public works staff recommended Town Hall be annexed into the city.

However, the Board of Public Works ultimately went against the staff's recommendation on annexation.

While annexation didn't prove to be a major obstacle, Marek said his worries are with his own Town Board.

"It's on our shoulders now," Marek said. "Unfortunately, we have a couple of Town Board members wanting to test for a mound system. It's going to destroy many of the oak trees in the park."

Town Hall is in need of an alternative source due to its failing septic system, he said. The septic tank dates to 1958 and forces the town to spend an average of $335 to pump its septic tank each time.

This number increases when it pumps it twice a month, which it did frequently at the beginning of the year.

"It's nuts," Marek said. "At most, people spend $300 every three years. It's a waste of time and money and that waste lies solely on Mike Laska, Joe Banske and Larry Wolf."

Supervisor Laska, who is heading the project and working directly with the engineering firm, Ruekert-Mielke, takes issue with Marek's comments.

Marek continues to stress Laska needs to be removed from the project and be replaced with Supervisor Brian Fischer, a licensed engineer and architect.

"There's been a maximum effort to discredit me on this issue," Laska said. "It's nothing more than a smear-type of thing. What they're doing is politicking, because they don't want Laska around next April.

“It’s sad. I’m a public servant. I am not a politician. Unfortunately, I see (Marek and Fischer) as politicians.”

After reviewing it last year, Fischer said the septic tank is shot.  

Marek said connecting with the city is about saving tax dollars.

"There's a main for the sewer right in front of Town Hall," Marek said. "But what is happening is obstruction." 

Christopher Genellie, the senior project manager at Ruekert-Mielke, had said in order to complete a design and project ready to bid it needed city approval.

Marek, however, felt the process should have been handled quicker.

"It's up to the board whether or not we hook up to municipal services or we can simply sit on our hands," Marek said. "We should have had pipes in the ground already. We should have been much further along. We really haven't done any of the plans that need to be done. Mike has done nothing on this project outside of the project engineer drawing a couple of plans."

Laska, who said the pumping in recent months has subsided and that "it has been blown out of proportion," said the project takes time and he and the Town Board will exhaust all options.

"We were waiting for the city and I'm not saying that's a problem, I'm just saying that's the process and I had no control over that," Laska said. "Now, we're getting proposals for mound systems and proposals will be sent out to contractors for city sewer services. We have been waiting on the city to give us the final green light. I have no power over that. But that doesn't seem to matter with Mr. Marek and Mr. Fischer."

In regard to vetting a mound system instead of going directly with the city connection, Laska said he wants to make sure the Town Board is getting the most cost-effective solution.

"We're in charge of the Town checkbook and we have to be accountable," Laska said. "We have options and have to make a rational and good decision and can't go into it blindly. That's not the way to do business. The Town Board will decide where the dollars will be spent and I have to get those options and present those to the Town Board."

He said he isn't surprised Marek blames him for the issue.

"If there's any way to throw shots at me it happens," Laska said. "It's the greed and it will just get more volatile. If I wasn't watching over this sewer connection issue, then you better believe the Skype thing would be top-notch and would be beaten over the head. That is coming."

It already has.

Marek specifically referenced Laska leaving in November for Texas where he spends his winters as reason enough the project is bound to stall.

"This is just one more reason we should not allow a supervisor to sit on the board who spends half his time in another state," said Marek, who had hoped to eliminate the practice of allowing board members to use video conferencing when not physically present at meetings (The board denied Marek's request at a June meeting). "The ordinances meant physical presence so to have anything but is nonsense. We're a laughingstock."

Laska said times have changed and the town board has adapted to new technology.

"Communication can be in any form so I don't see any issues with that and don't want to engage in that (with Marek)," Laska said. "But there will be virtually any form to discredit me on this, too. "