The public's confidence in the Village Board is waning stemming from the village's financial stake in the financial troubled , according to a Menomonee Falls Patch survey.
The unscientific survey was conducted by Patch to gauge residents' views on the troubled hotel. The survey, which was posted on Patch for the last three weeks, was completed by 99 people, all but seven of whom are Falls residents.
Half of the respondents said they have less confidence in the Village Board as a result of the problems with the Radisson, which went into , and is embroiled in and has missed its first payment on a $17.65 million loan from the village.
Another 40 percent of the respondents said they have "about the same" amount of confidence in the board. A total of 5.5 percent said they are more confident in the board.
According to village Trustee Sharon Ellis, the key to rebuilding and maintaining the confidence of the public is to always to take the citizenry and constituents into consideration when making decisions.
"The Radisson is a one-time situation … and as that continues to unfold, I'm confident that the citizens will see that we voted in their best interest," she said in an interview Friday.
In addition, half of those who responded to the survey said the village should never have lent developers $17.65 million to build the establishment. Another 30.6 percent said "it's still too soon to tell."
"Every member that voted for this loan should be thrown out of office. This is an example of government run amok," wrote one respondent.
Another respondent had a more favorable perspective of the project.
"I thought it was a good idea. The building was an eyesore, something had to be done. I also thought it would bring jobs--which it did ... but now what will happen?" the respondent wrote.
"The appointment of a receiver is not an indication of the quality of service and the type of service that is being run there," said village Trustee Stephen Raymonds.
The hotel’s ownership group Lodging Investors of Menomonee Falls, operated by Dean Grosskopf, is facing a civil fraud suit from investors claiming the management company diverted $1.2 million from bank accounts for two Fairfield Inn hotels in Green Bay and Beloit.
There are also several construction liens totaling $2.8 million in unpaid bills by the group stemming from the Radisson’s development in Menomonee Falls.
The group missed its first payment on the loan, and the village has successfully petitioned the courts for a receiver to oversee the cash flow of the hotel and secure the village’s share of the revenue.
Ellis said it is too early to characterize the Radisson project as a failure.
"We can't make our decisions on short-term thinking," she said. "My decisions have to be made on the long term, while taking into consideration all that I know or all that I can find out in the research and then making the best decision based on long term what is good for the community."
More than one-third of respondents said they doubt that the business will ever be successful. However, 54 percent of those surveyed said the Radisson has had a positive impact on downtown, and nearly 40 percent said they supported the hotel from the start — and still do.
"I would like to see it succeed, but it will take the help of the community to use the property" one respondent wrote.
"With another hotel just down the road in Milwaukee, I did not see a market for this," another respondent wrote.
Survey respondents were divided on many issues regarding the hotel. For example, 36 percent said they are not confident the Radisson will remain in business for the foreseeable future, but 30 percent said they were confident or "very confident" the business would last.
Likewise, 39 percent said they supported the project from the beginning and still do; but 37 percent said they never supported the project.
Length of time living in the village seemed to be a factor in the survey results. The longer a respondent lived in the village, the more they seemed to disapprove of the the Radisson project, and were less confident that the hotel will remain in business.
Do you believe village officials made the right decision in lending this money to the Radisson?
Response Percent Response Count Yes 19.4 19 No 50 49
Too soon to tell30.6 30
Overall, do you have more or less confidence in village officials as a result of the recent financial problems with the Radisson?Response Percent Response Count More confident 5.5 5
Less confidence56 51
About the same38.5 35
The Radisson Hotel is part of a special taxing district created by the Village Board. Do feel the village has used tax incremental financing effectively to promote development in the village?
Response Percent Response Count Yes 28.6 28 No 40.8 40 Too soon to tell 13.3 13
Don't know enough details17.3 17
How confident are you that the Menomonee Falls Radisson will remain in business for the foreseeable future?
Response Percent Response Count Very Confident 10.2 10 Confident 20.4 20 Unsure 33.7 33 Not confident at all 35.7 35