October 6, 2009

City Council approves Seventh St. roundabout, workout pay for firefighters

Seventh Street roundabout (click to enlarge)

Downtown Racine is set to get its first roundabout in 2011.

The City Council voted Tuesday night to approve a roundabout in front of City Hall as part of a plan to rebuild Seventh Street. The plan calls for a significant overhaul of the awkward "V" intersection where Sixth and Seventh streets intersect.

Paul P. Harris Plaza, the small park at the intersection with the clock, named after the founder of Rotary International who was born here, will increase in size with the roundabout. The greenspace in front of City Hall will shrink.

While work won't begin until 2011, city officials had to make a decision about the intersection now to give state planners time to prepare the project.

The state is involved with the Seventh Street because it's technically state Highway 20. This is a good thing for the city because federal money will cover 80 percent of the project's cost. The city will pick up the rest.

State and city officials will make some decisions on the project in coming months, and WisDOT will prepare it for bid in December 2010. Work is scheduled to begin in Spring 2011.

The project is estimated to cost $5 million.

Firefighters' workout bonus

Racine firefighters will get an extra $6.50 per hour for working out under a contract approved by the City Council Tuesday night.

The council passed the agreement after a debate led by Alderman Sandy Weidner, who opposed the provision.

The extra pay is limited to 100 hours per year per firefighter. The hope is the contract provision will encourage firefighters to get in better shape.

Raytown Roadhouse

The Raytown Roadhouse, a country-western-themed bar on Sixth Street, got its liquor license Tuesday night. The City Council approved the Class "B" license with no discussion.

Owners Pete Karas and Jim Spodick got some additional good news Tuesday night. The council rejected two liquor licenses, which freed up a non-reserve license for the Raytown Roadhouse.

State law limits how many liquor licenses a city can issue. Once the city hits its quota, it can issue additional "reserve" licenses for $10,000 a piece. Karas and Spodick had to pay the $10,000 for their license, but will now be refunded $9,500 because the city fell under its state quota.

The Raytown Roadhouse is planning a grand opening for Saturday, Oct. 17.

Halloween Party

A proposed Halloween Party that would have shut down the 500 block of Main Street on Oct. 31 failed to win approval from the City Council. John

Armored Car

The Racine Police Department may soon own an armored car. Police Chief Kurt Wahlen is seeking permission to accept a 1999 Ford E-350 armored car from Garda Cash Logistics. Wahlen's request will be taken up by the Public Safety and License Committee.


  1. Two very dumb decisions. roundabouts are very expensive and inefficient.

    What's next...paying the firefighters to grill out, sleep and watch TV....Oh Yeah....we already do that!!!!

  2. I have to disagree. The roundabout and hwy K and 38 is great. They are used in Chicago and the UK. That intersection is a mess.

    Why the $6.50 an hour raise. That is not a good decision. I wouldn't be paid extra to be a baseball player or mail man but I would have to stay in shape. It is expected as part of the job. I am very disappointed in this council. So many unions are taking agreeing to a freeze and then our council votes an enormous raise for working out. No good.

  3. That intersection as it is, is absolutely the most horrible, messy intersection in Racine. Anything they do to change it will be a huge improvement. Im surprised there are not more accidents there.

    Also, anon 10:34 is incorrect, roundabouts are actually very efficient. The problem I think is that people are afraid of any big changes.

  4. Maybe they should give extra pay for all city employees who want to get in shape? Look around city hall sometime.

  5. Hose Jockey's are gods....Didn't you know that? Just ask them, they will tell you.

  6. Sarah Thompson10/07/2009 6:44 AM

    It is amazing at the amount of ignorance and narrow mindedness some people have. Roundabouts are efficent and are going up all over the United States. They are not going away any time soon. Deal with it. Petty comments about people at City Hall shows you have no class at all. Easy to hide behind your Anonymous name. The person who said people do not like change is absolutely correct. I will go one step further and say there will always be people who want the City to do something, and when the City does, these same people will complain about what the City did.

  7. The city just opened up a can of worms related to paying one group of employees to get/stay fit. Another reason to have a human resources director. A good human resources director would have stopped this. This action gives every other employee group a reason to push for more pay to get/stay healthy on the job.

    It must mean that the City of Racine doesn't have any money problems so they can reduce property taxes in the coming budget. We will be waiting to hear where the new revenue source is that can pay for these things. Just make sure not to raise the property taxes to pay for these types of things.

  8. Absolutely without a doubt anon 8:11 am. I agree completely! The city has made many mistakes and gotten themselves into more than one bad situation since they eliminated the HR director position. What were they thinking????

    Apparently the lack of HR director is being covered by the City attorney's office, but more specifically, Scott Letteney. He is probably the worst and most inappropriate fit for that job.

  9. Dear city employees who think they know things, but really don't,

    Shut the HELL UP.

  10. The Translator10/07/2009 9:09 AM

    What were the two business that got turned down so the city could give a "refund" to the Pete Karas and Jim Spodick?

  11. Isn't being fit a requirement for firemen. It is part of the job to do some heavy things. Oh that's right it isn't a requirement to STAY fit. Isn't something wrong with that? Maybe I will apply. I am 70 yrs old and a woman. Good qualifications for discrimination, huh? An armored car? So he can be safe from all the shooters in Racine while we take our chances? Doesn't anyone in the government know we are ALL in financial distress? Talk about the world going nuts....!

  12. I just reread the armored car part. Does that word 'accept' mean we are getting it for free? That would be nice. Maybe we could use it to go shopping, etc once in a while.

  13. Yea a free 1999 Van with a tired ending and trasnmission and 450,000hard miles on it, great.

    RPD already has an armored truck what do they need a van for ?
    Maybe its for all the parking ticket monies they collect ?

  14. The PD is looking to use the Armored Car like this: http://www.ci.peoria.il.us/nuisanceproperty

  15. I have driven through many, many roundabouts in Europe and Asia and, once you understand how they work, they are relatively easy to navigate and promote a safer and less congested driving experience than the difficult intersection now in front of City Hall. This is only true for areas that have lower posted speeds (generally 35mp or less) or higher speed areas that generally have low traffic volumes. I've been through some in high speed, high traffic areas and they cause all kinds of congestion problems. But, this one seems to make sense. The layout of this circle would definitely improve safety and traffic flow through the area.

    Paying for it is another matter. It's fine for the article to note that the Fed will pay 80% of its construction cost, but are there any strings attached? Does the city have to pay back any of that money over time? How much are the yearly maintenance costs going to be? How about giving us some particulars so we can make an informed decision on whether or not this is something we need at this time. Come on RP, it's time you started asking hard questions before posting an article with no information in it.

    This deal with offering to pay firefighters to stay fit is just another rip-off for the taxpayers. In many towns that I've lived in the firefighters have a PT program (that's Physical Training program for you that went to RUSD) that they must participate in every day they are on the job. It's not much different than the calisthenics used in military basic training. There should be no incentive or extra pay for them to stay in top physical condition. It should be a mandatory job requirement. In fact, the same could be said for our police department. Maybe it should work the other way around: if you're a fireman or policeman and you don't stay fit and under a specific weight specification based on height, you can be temporarily suspended until you meet the requirements. This is no different than the continued training many occupations require to maintain licenses or remain employed.

    The biggest problem we face is a bunch of idiots sitting on the city council who's heads would explode if they exercised any common sense at all. Hey city council, I've got an idea: let's approve some more liquor licenses so more bars can open. Our firemen and police can get all the exercise they need lifting those heavy pints and steins.

  16. Let's just hope that the geniuses who design the roundabout make sure that large trucks (including fire trucks) can navigate it safely. Poorly designed roundabout can cause a lot of problems for truckers.

  17. I thought this was an environmentally friendly town, yet they are destroying green space to build another road?

  18. 11:49

    Racine is also killing a Farmer's Market for a gas station. Cash is still king in Racine

  19. Roundabouts make me dizzy - ha!

  20. Actually the R-a-bout is "green" because less need to slow and accelerate thru the intersection. It will also provide nearly same garden area currently in intersection. it will also not require controlled lights thus reducing energy consumption. My biggest concern here is to ensure the EASTbound lane is as smooth as possible for fire and emergency, and delivery vehicles to get thru with as much ease as possible. The Westbound traffic should be as smooth int 6th st as possible. But even though I'm not a "Greenie" or a believer in Global Warming.. I think this rotary makes sense in that spot. My understanding is the cost was similar to rebuilding it in it's current conformity. it will be a beautiful entryway to our Downtown. Let's do the same thing at State, Spring and Memorial.