December 31, 2015

MENASHA, WI - December 31, 2015. Menasha Mayor Don Merkes has officially launched his reelection campaign, submitting more than 265 signatures nominating him for a third term. The signatures were collected by a team of 20 supporters who brought in 30% more than the number required, gathered during the busy holiday season.

There have been marked improvements in Menasha’s fortunes during Merkes’s tenure, including reduction of some $10 million in city debt since 2011, robust housing growth on the east side, and a remarkable renaissance of the city’s downtown commercial district. Tax rates have been stable, the city’s credit rating restored to investment grade, and the city has maintained its array of quality services and amenities that make it a great place to live, work and play.

Merkes has made open government a high priority. He was an early advocate of televising the regular meetings of the Menasha Common Council and has made it a policy to place full agendas and supporting documents on the City’s web site ahead of each meeting. The City will roll out a fresh new web site this year, with enhanced features to help residents interact with their city government online. But there’s no substitute for face to face contact, Mayor Merkes maintains an open door policy, making himself available to meet with civic groups and individual residents on a regular basis, as well as by appointment during times city hall isn't open to better meet resident's schedules.

I believe in this community and the ability of the people of Menasha to do great things,” says Merkes. He goes on to say, “Though we’ve made substantial progress, we must continue to work together to maintain the momentum growing in Menasha. We’re building a new image for our community as we increase access to our waterfront, reduce our debt level, and continue to increase commercial development throughout Menasha. We’re attracting more homeowners to rehab and upgrade our older neighborhoods, and we’ll grow our tax base as we build vibrant neighborhoods and see increasing prosperity across the city.”

Mayor Merkes sums it up by saying, “Menasha has a lot going for it. Let’s keep moving forward together.”

December 30, 2015

You don't need to go to the  Big Apple to celebrate the New Year in the City Square complete with a ball drop and fireworks. Menasha has been doing it downtown in Curtis Reed Square for two decades.

This year will mark the 22nd time FNB-Fox Valley FirstEve has welcomed the New Year.   This year is going to be a heatwave compared to the last two years.  Celebrate the beginning of 2016 with:
  •  Copper Box live on stage starting at 10:00PM
  •  Sky lantern launch just after 11:00PM
  • A New York City style ball drop at Midnight
  • Fireworks over the Fox River at Midnight
There will be lots of audience participation and dancing in the street all evening.  Best of all – it’s free to the public. And if you can’t make it – you can see a live broadcast of the ball drop on WFRV TV.

Special thanks to FNB-Fox Valley, Festival Foods, and Faith Technologies

July 01, 2015

Come celebrate Independence Day with us in Menasha!

Please note that there are some changes this year.  We will be shooting fireworks from the water rather than the baseball diamond as in the past, this means the best spots to view the fireworks will be along the shorewall pretty much the length of the park.  There will be a family area where we don't allow alcohol from the boulevard at the center of the park to the east.  We also are reminding people that we will not be permitting carry in's of alcohol, if you wish to enjoy a beer please support the Menasha Mac's who help coordinate the event and sell the beverages.

July 3rd CommunityFest Events in Menasha

12:00p - 11:00p
Brats, Burgers, Hot Dogs - Carryout Available
Benifits Menasha Girls Basketball
Curtis Reed Square Downtown

5:00p - 7:00p
"Sokol Boys" Band
Curtis Reed Square Downtown Menasha

7:30p - 9:30p
"Bad Habitz" - Youth Rock Band
Curtis Reed Square Downtown Menasha

9:15p - 9:50p
Parade of Lights - Patriotism on Parade
Riverside Park, Neenah to Downtown Menasha



July 4th CommunityFest Events in Menasha

10:30a - 11:30a    
Menasha Senior Center Line Dancers    
Small Pavilion Jefferson Park

11:00a - 1:00p    
Menasha Football Skills Course    
West Diamond Jefferson Park

12:00p - 10:30p    
Food, Beverages, Merchants    
Small Pavilion Jefferson Park

12:00p - 1:00p    
Fox Valley Swing Band    
Main Stage Jefferson Park

2:00p - 10:30p    
Inflatables for Kids    
East side of Large Pavilion Jefferson Park

2:00p - 5:30p    
Rod Scheuer Band - Classic Rock    
Main Stage Jefferson Park

4:00p - 7:00p    
Petting Zoo & Carriage Rides    
Next to West Diamond Jefferson Park

5:30p - 6:00p    
'Doc Ron' Weird Schience Comedy Show    
East side of Large Pavilion Jefferson Park

6:00p - 7:00p    
Webfooters Water Ski Show    
Jefferson Park Riverfront

7:00p - 11:00p    
Beaker Street - Classic Rock    
Main Stage Jefferson Park

7:30p - 8:00p    
Rondini Magic Family Fun Show    
East side of Large Pavilion Jefferson Park


9:30p    
Menasha Fireworks
Note fireworks are shot from the water just south of the Main Pavilion / West Baseball Diamond.  Plan your spots accordingly

see: www.nmcommunityfest.org for more information

May 18, 2015

On May 18th we send our Champion BlueJay's out into the world in style.  Just before graduation the City of Menasha will give honorary street names around the stadium in recognition of their achievements.



 

Championship Lane and Korth Way will remind us of their achievements, sportsmanship, and commitment to their school and community.

 

Go BlueJays!

The Menasha Common Council will consider a development agreement Monday to cement a proposal for a new eight story $12 million office tower downtown which I consider transformational for the downtown economy.
 
The new building will complement Faith Technologies current corporate headquarters creating a campus with 325 new employees in addition to their current employment. The first level of the building will house a Community First Credit Union branch as well as the business offices of Lang Dental. It is estimated that salaries of those working in the building will exceed $18 million annually and provide over $53 million in economic impact in the region.
 
The project enjoys broad support of the business community.  Menasha residents are expected to realize benefits associated with the new employment opportunities as well as the growth and diversification of Menasha’s economic base.
 
This project is expected to be the economic engine that helps move Menasha to a new state of economic stability and will spawn renewed interest in Menasha as a place for people to live, work, and do business.
 
Fifteen members of the community are working together to bring this new project to the downtown, citing their desire to strengthen the community and ensure the vitality of the downtown for years to come as their reason to invest. The city is to partner by assisting with higher redevelopment site costs expected to be $1.75 million as well as providing additional parking needed for the influx of employees the project will bring. A 300 space $4.8 million parking ramp is proposed to be constructed in a portion of the Broad St. parking lot. Costs will be funded through tax increment that the City would not have realized if the project didn't exist. As has been the case with our most recent agreements, this agreement is structured as a developer financed model where incentives are paid only after performance levels are met on an annual basis. This minimizes the risks to City taxpayers while still supporting and deriving the benefits of the development for the community.

February 09, 2015

If you haven't been out to the east side of Menasha lately take a drive, the changes are dramatic. Entering into development agreements with both Lexington Homes and Cypress Homes has led to impressive amounts of growth in the area for the City of Menasha. So much so that both builders are well ahead of the milestones that were anticipated in their agreements.

Cypress Homes has completely sold out in their 'Cottages at Lake Park' development, the 16 homes will have a value of around $3 million. Cypress Homes has also built a spec home in Lake Park Villas and has an agreement with the City to purchase 3 more lots in Lake Park Villas in 2015. We anticipate this continuing relationship with Cypress Homes will bring new families to Lake Park Villas and the care-free lifestyle the development represents, as they also plan to purchase 3 more lots in 2015.

Construction on a custom single family home designed by the owner is also set to begin this spring in Lake Park Villas.

In its February 2nd meeting, the Common Council approved an agreement with Lexington Homes that allows the opening of phase II & III of the Ponds of Menasha. Lexington Homes has already built around 68 homes in the development with a value of at least $12 million. They are far ahead of their milestone of reaching a value of $11.9 million by 2017.

The City incurred over $9 million in debt creating the original Lake Park Villas development and land purchase, today as a result of the rapid recent development in the area that debit is down to $5,013,075.

I'm also excited about the prospect of two other developments nearby. The first being Menasha Woodlands Park. This new 5 acre park will be just north of Villa Way at the extension of Lotus Trail. A public meeting a few weeks ago attracted dozens of people to talk about the new park in their neighborhood, waiting anxiously for it to be available for them and their children. The second being a new branch of Community First Credit Union which is to be built at the corner of Lake Park Road and Hwy 10-114. It is expected that the credit union branch will have a value of more than $1 million when complete.

Our eastern shore is growing thanks to great development partners, and attracting great new families to Menasha.
Another hit on recycling that even the Grinch wouldn't be proud of. The proposed State of Wisconsin budget cuts the recycling grant program by $4 million in the first year of the biennium. The current funding level is $19 million, with a $1 million bonus grant for responsible units that work cooperatively. The budget proposal would reduce the funding level from $19 million to $15 million in the first year of the biennium. In the second year of the biennium the Governor is recommending that the funding level be restored back to $19 million. The Governor also recommends retaining the $1 million bonus grant for cooperating responsible units in both years of the budget. For historical perspective purposes, in 2008 the funding for this grant program was at $32 million.

What does this mean for Menasha? About 20% of our program is funded through this program so any cuts in grants will make it even more difficult for us to increase frequency in the future.

Call your representative and let them know that recycling is important to you!

February 08, 2015

The popularity of the Trestle Trail is leading discussion on expanding the opportunity of getting in touch with our waterfront with a loop that will connect the east and west ends of the trail with a loop around the south end of Little Lake Butte des Morts, including two new trestles across the Fox River.  The photo below is at the proposed crossing from Mathewson St to the west end of the current trestle.


The Menasha Park Board will be reviewing the draft feasibility study Monday February 9th at 6PM, the public is welcome to join in this first glimpse of an exciting amenity that will continue to bring Menasha closer to the water. There will likely be a joint session of the two Common Councils in the near future to further discuss the project and begin the grant and fundraising process if the elected officials agree the project should move forward.

The concept shows a new leg of the trail extending from the end of the boardwalk on the City end (east end) of the trestle crossing the river to Mathewson Street, turning east on Fox Street, turning south on Lawson Street, turning left on River Street in Neenah, and continuing across the river to Arrowhead Park. There is an existing trail to the west end of the trestle through the park and along Lake Street.

While there is a hefty price tag on a project like this, it is anticipated that the vast majority would come from grants and donations much like the original trestle trail. Having safe access between the two downtowns is also likely to boost home values and neighborhood desirability on the west half of Doty Island in both communities.

Hundreds of thousands of people cross the trestle every year, I don't think that there is any time day or night that I have every crossed when there wasn't someone sharing the trail with me. The extension and creation of a loop is sure to bring even more people to Menasha to enjoy our waterfront lifestyle.

You can review the draft report here