September 16, 2009
Council hears neighbors and unions support Tousis
The first half-hour of Tuesday night's City Council meeting was mostly taken up by one issue, as 17 of the 19 speakers during the public comment section of the meeting spoke in favor of Tom Tousis' plan to build a grocery store, restaurant, bank and gas station in West Racine, on the corner of Washington Avenue and West Boulevard.
Most of those who spoke represented the various construction unions. Tousis announced last week he would use only union labor on the project, estimated to cost $5 million dollars.
Here's a sampling of what was said:
Karen Sorenson of ReMax: "It's a great project for West Racine."
County Board member Van Wangaard: "I spoke with more than 150 neighbors; the residents of West Racine want a sit-down restaurant; the sale of gas is a bonus. The project would produce 40-50 permanent jobs."
Tom Reiherzer of Building Alliance contractors: "This is about jobs at the prevailing wage, apprenticeships, family-supporting jobs. Local people and local jobs; it would produce 75-100 construction jobs." Reiherzer asked everyone in the Council Chamber's audience who was in favor of the project to stand up; almost everyone did.
Dan Doperalski, business agent with cement masons, said the project would produce "good jobs."
Keith Kemper, a sheet metal workers' representative, said it's a "good project."
Steve Juzenas, president of the plumbers and steamfitters, said it would be a shame "if that money goes out of town."
Al Johnson, a local union worker said, "I have many buddies sitting on the bench who could use this job."
Dean Bonanf, another plumber, said he'd been laid off for a year, and supports the project.
Josh Garner, an organizer for the sheet metal workers, said "this is a great opportunity."
Rich Fistler, business rep of the carpenters' union, said, "local jobs for local people."
Wesley Gable, president of Teamsters Local 43, said, "The council should support local people. It seems the Council likes to support people from out of town. I've seen no new businesses coming; I've seen business leaving."
Aaron Hansen, a bricklayer who lives within a mile of the site, said, "It would be nice to see this not a vacant lot."