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Monument Square
Monument Square redesign proposal moves forward

RACINE — City officials hope a proposed redesign for Monument Square and Downtown parking and traffic will be wrapped up by August so that the recommendations can be incorporated into the city’s 2020 budget.

The City Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee is sending Purchasing Agent Kathy Kasper’s recommendation to hire Madison-based Toole Design Group to the full council next week with a recommendation to approve.

Kasper said the city received 14 responses to the request for proposals which were whittled down to the top three by a committee consisting of Mayor Cory Mason, City Administrator Jim Palenick, City Development Director Amy Connolly, Transit and Parking Director Mike Maierle, City Engineer John Rooney and Dave Kamm, chairman of the Downtown Racine Corp. The top three applicants were brought in for interviews and the committee ultimately decided on Toole.

Why so soon?

Alderman Natalia Taft of the 13th District asked why the city has decided to re-design Monument Square. Monument Square was renovated to its current design in 2005 for $1.5 million.

Kasper said the city had already planned to redesign parking and traffic Downtown to make it more pedestrian-friendly. The square would be affected by changes to traffic and parking and many felt its current design does not allow it to be fully utilized.

Mason said officials had budgeted for each item separately but decided they would receive a better result by having all three projects under one bid.

“To use three different contractors that wouldn’t be talking to each other, would be a missed opportunity to coordinate all those things,” the mayor said.

Travel adviser Roger Brooks, during a visit to Racine, had advised the city to prioritize redesigning Monument Square.

“Your plaza has to be about people,” Brooks wrote in his report. “Right now this space is pretty, but unused, because there are no benches or things to do. It could easily be converted into an active space that people like to use and spend their free time.”

DRC Executive Director Kelly Kruse spoke in January about what the redesign could mean for Downtown Racine.

“We would like to see a permanent stage, more trees and green space, multiple seating areas and public bathrooms,” Kruse said. “These are just a few of the ways we could enhance Monument Square and make it more functional and enjoyable for year-round programming.”

The budget for the design is $50,000 for Monument Square and $150,000 for parking and traffic for a total of $200,000. No estimates have yet been provided for the potential construction.

The City Council is scheduled to vote on the recommendation to hire Toole Design Group at its meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., Room 205.

Alyssa Mauk / ALYSSA MAUK 

An Honor Guard made up of members of the Racine County Sheriff's Office and Racine, Caledonia and Sturtevant police departments, stands at ease during a law enforcement ceremony honoring Racine County officers who lost their lives in the line of duty, on Monday at Hantschel Park, 5400 Byrd Ave. During the ceremony, Racine Police Chief Art Howell mentioned the recent deaths of Milwaukee Police officers Matt Rittner, Michael Michalski and Charles Irvine Jr., all of whom lost their lives within the past 11 months.

Mount Pleasant
Mount Pleasant renews contract for Foxconn project director


MOUNT PLEASANT — Claude Lois, Foxconn project director for Mount Pleasant, will be sticking around for at least another two years.

On Monday, the Village Board voted unanimously to renew a two-year contract with Kapur and Associates, for which Lois works, at a cost of $24,000 per month — an increase of nearly 25%, with an additional $150 per hour for work done after 40 hours a week.

The previous contract cost $20,000 per month and it had no additional charge for any work done after 40 hours.

Village President Dave DeGroot emphasized that the money goes to Kapur and not directly to Lois.

“For (Lois’) part, he was putting in 50- and 60-hour weeks and he was not charging us anything for those additional hours,” DeGroot said. “I think what he’s asking for, the increase, is very reasonable.”

DeGroot said compared to other professional services “it is still a bargain,” and other firms might charge more than $200 per hour for the work Lois is doing for the village.

“From my perspective, we’re still getting a bargain with Claude’s work (and) his work ethic,” DeGroot said. “I think all he’s looking for is a nice pat on the head and a ‘job well done.’ ”

Trustee Gary Feest, who has expressed issue with the additional $150 per hour charge for work done after 40 hours, said he voted for the contract basically due to lack of a better option.

“I wasn’t a big fan when there wasn’t really a negotiation on this contract. It was presented to us as a ‘take it or leave it’ as far as I could tell,” Feest said. “Two years — we don’t know what’s going to happen in two years with Foxconn, but we do have out clauses on this contract … so if we don’t feel that we’re getting the value from Kapur and Claude, there are ways to remedy that situation.”

Feest encouraged Village Administrator Maureen Murphy to “keep an eye on all the costs and make sure that we are getting the value that we deserve.”

Village transfers land

Also Monday, the village approved the transfer of two parcels of land, totaling about 10 acres, in Area I of the Wisconn Valley development to Foxconn.

Area I is located north to south between Highway 11 and KR, and west to east between the East Frontage Road and Highway H.

Alan Marcuvitz, the attorney working with the village on acquiring and transferring land to Foxconn, said these properties would have been transferred last year but they “weren’t ready.”

The remaining land that the village has acquired for Foxconn that has not been transferred over is also not ready for the company, Marcuvitz said.

“(Foxconn) has not asked for them yet,” Marcuvitz said. “And we are asking to see plans for what is to be done there so we’re not sitting on vacant land.”

Lois said part of the village’s collateral on the project is the land that has not been conveyed over to Foxconn.

“We’re transferring land as they need it,” Lois said. “One of the biggest things we have in (the development agreement) as far as collateral is the land that they pay for and are paying for through a special assessment.”

The village also imposed a special assessment on the newly transferred parcels. In total, the village special assessment for all of the Foxconn land in Area I is worth about $90 million.

DeGroot said another reason why the village has not transferred over all the land to Foxconn at this point is to prevent them from flipping the land and selling it for a profit.

“From my perspective, we’re still getting a bargain with Claude’s work (and) his work ethic.” Dave DeGroot, Mount Pleasant village president, speaking about the village’s contracted Foxconn project manager

Adalberto Almeida, for The Journal Times 

Prom-goers prepare to enter Festival Hall on the evening of May 19 for the 2018 Rotary Post Prom, an annual tradition in Racine. 


Racine Police
Man involved in Friday's apparent murder-suicide identified

RACINE — The Racine Police Department has released the name of the man involved in Friday’s apparent murder-suicide on 19th Street.

Ubaldo Gonzalez Jr., 34, of Racine has been named as the man involved in the Friday morning shooting that also took the life of 30-year-old Angelica “Angie” Rios.

Police responded to the 2600 block of 19th Street early Friday morning after receiving a call from a child that shots had been fired inside the home, according to Sgt. Adam Malacara, the Police Department’s spokesman. Officers found the deceased bodies of Gonzalez and Rios.

Two children, who were unharmed, were also located.

On Sunday, Mother’s Day, the porch of the house was piled with flowers, candles and stuffed animals. On Saturday evening, dozens gathered outside the 19th Street home to remember Rios.

Online court documents indicated that Gonzalez had lived at that 19th Street address in March 2018. But police called him “estranged” and it’s unclear if he lived there at the time of the shooting.

According to court records, Gonzalez pleaded no contest to charges of disorderly conduct with a domestic abuse assessment in 2011.

In 2012, he pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct, again with a domestic abuse assessment. He was also charged in that case with criminal damage to property but the charge was dropped and read in to the record.

Rios worked as a certified nursing assistant at Ascension All Saints Hospital and recently took a full-time job with the Racine Unified School District, but she still worked some shifts at the hospital.

In a statement released Monday, Kristin McManmon, Ascension All Saints Hospital president, said: “The Ascension All Saints family is deeply saddened by losing one of our own. Angie Rios was one of our certified nursing assistants who was admired for going above and beyond for her patients, for her beautiful heart and her devotion to her patients and her family.

“This heartbreaking loss is felt not only by the Ascension community but by the patients who benefited from her compassionate care. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Angie’s family at this difficult time.”

Mugshots: Racine County criminal complaints, May 13