Change on the Horizon for Waukesha Downtown Business Improvement District

Waukesha BIDI’ve been sporadically following the events that gave rise to the resignation of Meghan Sprager, [former] executive director of the Waukesha Downtown Business Improvement District (BID).  Without having witnessed any of the alleged hostility or threats, nor having attended any subsequent meetings to address this serious matter, I am merely sharing information as it relates to what has been published in the media.  I am confident that those sources are credible – absent the silly and immature comments in the online media forums.

In August Meghan Sprager submitted a letter of resignation as Waukesha BID Executive Director, criticizing board members with allegations of a hostile work environment.  “It is my observation that the BID is very unhealthy,” she wrote. “It cannot continue operating in its current state.”

Earlier this month business owners in downtown Waukesha told the Waukesha Common Council that they have been ridiculed, harassed and bullied in front of their customers by an unnamed BID board member.  A vote of no-confidence by board members Chris VanderBloemen and Jeff Barta against Norm Bruce, the BID board president, and Lynn Gaffey, a board member, fell short when the majority of the BID board voted in favor of Bruce and Gaffey.  The common consensus at the meeting was that the BID Board needed to be recapitulated with new leaders.

In a recent turn of events the Patch reported Tuesday that 11 of the 13 BID Board members have resigned due to personal attacks and false allegations from various sources.  Mayor Jeff Scrima stated that the only board members remaining are Bill Huelsman and Natalie Walters.

Citing constant attacks against his honest attempts to help promote the downtown and run his business, Roger Igielski, owner of Allo! Chocolat stepped down from BID stating that he has seen the same people who want to replace the entire BID board vote in opposition of a homeless shelter, baseball in Frame Park, sidewalk dining and Freeman Friday Night Live street closures.  Other board members cited reasons similar to Igielski for their decision to resign from BID.  “The allegations against my friends are totally untrue,” said board member and local attorney Jess Martinez after submitting his resignation.

Replacing the BID Board is a role that is conducted by the Mayor and there has been no news as to when or whom the Mayor will appoint to assume the roles that have been conceded.  Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel cited an email from Mayor Scrima which stated: “Those who resigned are still committed to our vibrant downtown, and we look forward to the new opportunities this will bring.”

Only time will tell as to whether this change will be a positive move for downtown Waukesha.  Hopefully the Mayor will find individuals who have as much love and passion for our city as did the prior members of BID.

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