This page will be modified and expanded as needed. I hope it serves as a public forum for ideas to move Kaukauna forward, advancing its infrastructure, culture, economy and beauty. Please feel free to contact me with any idea or comment, and I will be sure to add it here. Hopefully this will get Kaukauna residents talking about shaping their community and hopefully those with the authority to do so will take notice.
The expansion of the Internet is currently one of the best ways to bring in revenue to a city: it attracts businesses when Internet is more easily accessible, and with cables now being a part of public infrastructure, an Internet company can be set up fairly inexpensively.
Kaukauna would be wise to invest in Internet service. The city could charge enough to make a profit, but still less than the primary provider in the area, Time Warner. If the bill went through the utilities along with water and electricity, it would be easy for customers to keep up on their monthly bills. And, as no surrounding city (to my knowledge) has done this yet, Kaukauna could get not only its own citizens but surrounding citizens to sign up. Now out-of-town customers would be funding Kaukauna… this is a win for everybody (except Time Warner).
Kaukauna’s roads are well-maintained, and I have little suggestion for improvement. But there is one: if possible Bicentennial Court should be extended to exit on to Kenneth Avenue. As it sits, the people living on Bicentennial have to exit via either the Burger King parking lot or on Reaume near the police station. Anyone heading towards Appleton, who I presume to be the vast majority, swing back towards Kenneth — a minor road extension would reroute this traffic very effectively.
While I have not worked out the details, and think it would be best for the city to do that, an idea worth considering is what I call $1000 Facelifts. I think each year there should be a sum set aside, somewhere from $1000-$5000, for business owners to apply for. One business owner would get the average sum based on various factors, including the age of their business or building, and the need for remodeling.
Second Street went into decline after Highway 55 was rerouted. I think the rerouting was a good idea, but it did hurt the downtown area. As one way to increase business, this fun could make the old, run-down buildings appear new again on the outside. Of course, we would want to maintain the historic look, but we do not want the buildings to look condemned. Putting in new windows or paint could make a big difference. Perhaps the city may also want to think about historic plaques to attach to the city’s oldest buildings, reflecting the bridge the city has between tradition and the future. Most of the families who started the first businesses in town still live in Kaukauna.
Appleton is the largest city in the Fox Cities. Kaukauna is the largest city east of Appleton (Little Chute, Kimberly, Combined Locks). Kaukauna should use its dominance to pursue annexation of surrounding rural areas. Certainly, this is the only way to stay strong as Appleton expands. Kimberly and Little Chute have a little room, Combined Locks has nowhere to go. Kaukauna, though, has all the way to Freedom, Sherwood, Wrightstown and Hollandtown if the city was to pursue it. Increase the tax base.
Kaukauna has an amazing police force. Crime is low, and criminals are caught quickly and effectively. There is no suggestion that can be made to improve the force. However, the city might consider reducing the force by one officer. Not through firing, but after the next retirement, simply do not rehire. There are more police per capita than a town this size needs, and to cut down on costs would be a nice step towards reducing the budget: one less officer to pay, less wear and tear on the vehicles, and more.
The Gustman Lot
Following the Dog Track (which has since been remedied to some degree), the biggest eyesore in town is the Gustman Lot. What to do with it? At this point, with the land in the hands of the real estate company, it is not the city’s problem… but it continues to reflect on the city that in the middle of town there is a barren lot wasting away.
I know of no problem with the schools. The biggest problem is probably with a former school, Nicolet. The building is designed in such a way that it has great historic value but little practical use. It could not easily be turned into apartments, and the cost of heating it with natural gas is astronomical. Furthermore, anyone who purchased it would also be stuck with the costs on the repaving of the adjoining streets. Sadly, if Kaukauna wants to sell the lot, the fastest way may be to simply tear the school down and sell the property, which could be divided up into multiple lots for housing. Also, as a way to offset the cost of demolition, perhaps sell bricks from the building for $5-$10, which probably holds many memories for Kaukauna residents.