Wheatland Town Board seemed favorably disposed to join the Southeastern Wisconsin Fox River Commission after a presentation by commission representatives at Monday’s Town Board meeting.
Thomas Slawski, a Southeast Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission planner who also is a non-voting member of the Fox River Commission, and Jim Pindel, secretary and treasurer of the Fox River Commission, explained the commission is looking to expand its designated area. Right now, they are in the process of getting memos of understanding from the municipalities south of Waterford to the Illinois state line. Besides Wheatland, the river commission will be approaching Salem and Silver Lake and already. It already has a signed memo of understanding from Kenosha County. Current members of the commission are municipalities up river of Rochester.
The river commission was created by the state legislature in 1997. It “has supported numerous projects within the planning area and has contributed approximately $1.25 million to projects that help improve the Illinois Fox River basin,” according to the agency’s website. Eligible activities include: Feasibility studies, construction projects, rehabilitation, navigation aids and channel dredging.
Most funding for commission activities has come through the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. But extending the commission to the state line where it can meet the Fox Waterway Agency could bring federal dollars to bear, Slawski said.
The Town Board could not vote on the memo of understanding Monday because only the presentation was noticed on the posted agenda. But board members who made comments during the meeting seemed in favor of moving forward.
“I think you have our support,” said Supervisor Andrew Lois. Chairman William Glembocki said he expected to be able to vote on joining the commission at the next board meeting.
Slawski explained that the river commission will have to gather the approval of all subject municipalities and then seek an amendment of the state legislation that created the district to officially expand. After expansion, the commission will have a representative from each member municipality.
In the meantime, Wheatland officials seemed to already have ideas about projects that the group could address. Glembocki mentioned preserving shoreline at the town’s park along the river. Lois mentioned efforts to keep erosion from felling trees and slowing river flow as well as dredging to help farmers along stretches that flood often.
“We could name a couple of projects for you,” said Clerk Sheila Siegler in response to Slawski’s comment that the commission “is looking for projects.”