Avatar
All Posts by Empower Wisconsin

Survey results on Shawano ‘adult playground’ released

Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 6, 2019

By M.D. Kittle 

How do the residents in the Shawano, Wis. area feel about paying for a proposed recreation center that could top $28 million? 

Do they know the “independent survey firm” commissioned to gauge citizen sentiment has been accused of skewing the survey process in other Wisconsin communities? 

Shawano local government leaders will learn the results of a community-wide survey of citizen sentiment on what one community member has labeled an “adult playground” at tonight’s joint meeting of the city council and school board. 

The meeting begins at 5:30 p.m. in the Shawano Community High School library.

Local government officials have said all community members were afforded the opportunity to provide input on the proposed 100,000-square-foot Shawano Community Recreation Center. The proposal calls for a warm water pool, gym space for basketball, volleyball and tennis, a large fitness area, and an indoor track, among other amenities. It would be a shared facility, open to city and district residents. 

“An independent survey firm, School Perceptions, will conduct the survey, collect the data anonymously, and provide a report for the school board and the public,” a rec center proposal page notes. 

School Perceptions’ has been criticized by some for a business model that has helped school districts “grease the skids” for large spending measures, according to an investigation last year by MacIver News Service.  The Slinger-based firm has assisted hundreds of school districts seeking voter approval for massive building projects, including a controversial referendum in the Cedarburg School District. 

Conservative talk radio host Mark Belling pointedly criticized the firm in an op-ed, MacIver reported. With School Perceptions’ help, “…school boards and superintendents are using public money to mislead their residents and pretending to conduct honest surveys,” Belling wrote in the Waukesha Freeman piece.

One community member wrote to Cedarburg’s school administrator, “School Perceptions has built their business around helping school districts pass referendums. They are advocates, not impartial referees. Their ability to sell future projects to the next school district will depend, in part, on whether the Cedarburg referendum passes.”

The ballot question did pass last fall, 53 percent to 47 percent. 

Shawano’s proposed rec center, according to the city’s estimates, could cost more than $28 million to build and $400,000 a year to maintain. 

As Empower Wisconsin has reported, some Shawano residents are concerned about the price tag and whether this Northwoods community of 9,300 residents really needs a gilded fitness center.

“Some people say this all looks nice and all that other stuff, but in a community of a lot of retirees living on fixed incomes another tax increase might be enough to force them out of their house. That’s ridiculous,” said a Shawano business professional who asked not to be identified.

Randi Anderson, Shawano School District administrator, acknowledges that “in general, there would be a tax increase to the community.” Just how much, she could not say. It depends, the administrator told Empower Wisconsin, on the retirement of outstanding district debt.

Anderson said the district and the city are working together to “see if there is interest” in the project.

But it seems the process is on a fast track. The question could go to voters in a referendum as soon as spring, according to the local newspaper, the Shawano Leader.

Get involved

Contact Shawano School Board members here

Contact Shawano Common Council members here 

Listen to more:

Explore More
Congress can learn from Wisconsin’s John Doe reforms to fix FISA

Congress can learn from Wisconsin’s John Doe reforms to fix FISA

On one hand, Republican state lawmakers want to use the state’s anticipated revenue surplus to provide some local property tax relief. On the other, several bills are working their way through the Capitol that could have the opposite effect.

Read More »

January 24, 2020
Barnes wants to ‘stymie capitalism’

Barnes wants to ‘stymie capitalism’

Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes believes we must “stymie capitalism” if we want to save the world from the threats of climate change. 

Read More »

January 23, 2020
Watch out: Bills that could cost you

Watch out: Bills that could cost you

On one hand, Republican state lawmakers want to use the state’s anticipated revenue surplus to provide some local property tax relief. On the other, several bills are working their way through the Capitol that could have the opposite effect.

Read More »

January 23, 2020
Leave it to Evers: Nap-and-spend Tony

Leave it to Evers: Nap-and-spend Tony

Nap-and-spend Gov.Tony Evers was up past his bedtime Wednesday delivering his State of the State address. 

Read More »

January 23, 2020
Kids’ climate change lawsuit tossed

Kids’ climate change lawsuit tossed

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 23, 2020 Want to know exactly how insane the climate change movement has become? Not even…

Read More »

January 23, 2020
Tool of the Week: The vote-changers — Doyle, Meyers and Vruwink

Tool of the Week: The vote-changers — Doyle, Meyers and Vruwink

Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 20, 2020  MADISON — This week’s Tools are puppets.  Dem Reps. Steve Doyle of Onalaska, Beth…

Read More »

January 23, 2020
Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *