Brett Lindstrom clears snow from walkways at the hockey rink in Oak Creek in this file photo. The Oak Creek Town Board renewed its annual agreement with the Oak Creek Hockey Association at a meeting Thursday. The Town Board hopes to make improvements to the facility, including a possible full-time maintenance person.

file photo

Brett Lindstrom clears snow from walkways at the hockey rink in Oak Creek in this file photo. The Oak Creek Town Board renewed its annual agreement with the Oak Creek Hockey Association at a meeting Thursday. The Town Board hopes to make improvements to the facility, including a possible full-time maintenance person.

Oak Creek Town Board also discusses surveys, hate mail

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— Oak Creek officials are working to ensure that future users of the town's rink aren't skating on thin ice.

The Oak Creek Town Board renewed its annual agreement with the Oak Creek Hockey Association at a meeting Thursday but expects to re-examine its joint operation and funding systems later this year with the hope of improving operations at the facility.

Ideally, the town would like to hire a full-time employee for rink maintenance and to enforce safety rules. At present, many of the rink responsibilities and snow removal tasks have fallen upon parents whose kids participate in the hockey league.

"There needs to be a concerted effort to make better use of this facility," board member Tom Bleuer said.

At the request of its insurer, the town is adding signage and considering parental supervision rules for younger skaters.

The town is in talks with its attorney about the possibility of formally establishing the Oak Creek Ice Rink as a park, to prevent an arbitrary sale of the property in the future, board member John Crawford said.

In return for establishing a jointly funded reserve for future Zamboni replacement, the town is considering asking the Oak Creek Hockey Association to share in electricity costs for the rink since they benefit from the utilities, board member Dave Fisher said.

Upcoming surveys

Oak Creek residents can expect to receive two surveys from the town in coming months - one as part of the town's effort to update its Comprehensive Plan and one from the Oak Creek Police Department.

The update to the town's Comprehensive Plan will look at future areas of growth for Oak Creek and conduct reviews of its building codes and annexation policies. The town especially wants to focus on examining ways to increase its tax base without losing its small town character, as well as affordable housing, Mayor Pro-Tem Angie Krall said.

Denver-based consultants, Britina Design Group, who worked on Oak Creek's last comprehensive plan in 1996, was the only firm to bid for the project and came in well under the town's $25,000 budget for the design, Krall said. The Town Board is expected to approve the bid after an interview with the firm next month.

A $20,000 Energy Impact Grant from the state will help pay for the project. A number of public meetings are planned for the coming months to involve local residents, who also will receive a survey to gather their input. The town plans to mail those surveys in April.

The Town Board also approved a draft of a survey to be sent out in February by the Oak Creek Police Department to gather information to direct community policing efforts and provide figures for grant applications.

The survey will ask residents about public safety, including asking them to rank issues of concern, perceived quality of life in Oak Creek, crime prevention measures residents are taking, as well as provide demographic information, Oak Creek Police Chief Russ Caterinicchio said.

Crawford requested that questions be added regarding residents' satisfaction and experiences in dealing with town police.

Hate mail

The Town Board also discussed the increased amount of anonymous hate mail being received at Town Hall and gave town employees instructions not to bother with any letters with no name or return address attached.

"It seems like there's an exorbitant amount of hate mail : that has no return address, no name we can respond to," Krall said. "We get it all the time, but it seems like there's been a rash lately."

Virtually all of the anonymous hate mail has been simply addressed to "Town Hall staff," and much of it is third-party complaints that are uninformed and have no intention other than to harass, Caterinicchio said.

Some of the hate mail has even been directed toward the pets of Town Hall staff members, Town Clerk Karen Halterman said.

"If a citizen has a concern, and it's legitimate, it's reasonable to ask that citizens put their name and address on the letter," Fisher said.

Krall asked Oak Creek residents with concerns about the town to fill out complaint forms available at Town Hall, or to address the Town Board directly.

"Maybe we can make some headway on the town's issues if people will go through proper channels," Bleuer said.

While the town holds the right to free speech, any letters that seem to be an attack on an individual will be looked into by the police, Caterinicchio said.

In other business, the Town Board raised department heads' discretionary spending limit to $1,500, and approved adding Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a paid holiday for town staff.

"Every other municipality in the valley recognizes Martin Luther King Day, and I think it's important that the community honor this great man," Krall said.

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