The Sauk County Board will consider two resolutions tonight that would pave the way for a new residence hall on the University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County campus.

The board approved a resolution in September that said any potential lease agreement with Bluffstone, LLC, to construct and operate the campus’ first dorm shall be for a term no longer than 30 years, with the possibility of a 10-year extension.

But the firm has requested that the lease include the option of a longer extension. The board will consider a resolution Tuesday night that would grant the possibility of a 20-year extension.

The board also will consider an extension of the county and city’s lease with the University of Wisconsin Board Of Regents. The lease between the two local governments -- which own the campus property -- and the college system currently goes until 2042.

However, new projects, including the residence hall and a science building, are slated to outlive the current lease end date.

Under a resolution that the board will consider Tuesday, the lease with the Board of Regents would be extended to 2092. The Board of Regents already has approved the 50-year extension.

The Sauk County Campus Commission, which consists of college, city and county officials, approved the new dorm’s location, concept design and lease agreement during a meeting last week.

“We hope to soon have final designs as the City of Baraboo works with Bluffstone to move them through the design approval process,” Pleger said. “We are anticipating breaking ground this spring.”

Under the agreement, Bluffstone will pay for the construction and operation of the dorm, resulting in no cost to county taxpayers. The company will collect fees paid by students who live at the residence hall.

Board considers trail commission

The board also is slated to consider a resolution that would create a county trail development commission. The commission would oversee the conversion of a section of railroad in the Sauk Prairie area to a multi-use trail.

It would consist of two Sauk County Board supervisors, one commissioner from each of the villages of Sauk City and Prairie du Sac, the towns of Prairie du Sac, Sumpter and Merrimac. The commissioners would serve two-year terms. The Sauk County Parks Director would be an ex-officio member and secretary of the commission without a vote.

Sauk County Administrative Coordinator Kathy Schauf said all the towns and villages have passed resolutions lending support to the initiative.

The section of track is not used by the railroad company that owns it. However, officials have been reluctant to support the conversion in the past, saying it may be needed as a backup if the current line – which includes an old bridge over Lake Wisconsin – were to fail.

The Sauk County Board has passed a resolution stating the county would support the conversion if the state Department of Transportation were to purchase the line from Madison to Reedsburg. That would make the state responsible for the track’s upkeep, and ensure its survival.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Rail Project and Property Management Supervisor Frank Huntington said this month the state still is in negotiations with the Union Pacific Railroad for purchase of the Madison to Reedsburg/Cottage Grove section.

He said he was optimistic that a final acquisition agreement could be reached in the coming weeks.

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  • Reporter for the Baraboo News Republic.

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