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Mequon takes title of nature preserve

June 15, 2011

The Common Council on Tuesday accepted the 438-acre Mequon Nature Preserve from its long-time partner, the Ozaukee Washington Land Trust. The city will soon negotiate a lease with Mequon Nature Preserve, a nonprofit friends group who will manage the property and operate the PieperPower Education Center. The city initiated the Mequon Nature Preserve project as a result of its residents' vision to save green space as expressed on a 1999 community wide survey according to former Mayor Christine Nuernberg, who is the secretary-treasurer of MNP.

The Ozaukee Washington Land Trust was instrumental in the nature preserve's development, purchasing the property and managing it. With the city's acceptance of a conservation easement that prohibits development on the land forever, OWLT will turn over the property title to the city of Mequon.

The council was evenly split on the decision to accept the land and easement, with Mayor Curt Gielow casting the deciding vote on its acceptance.

Aldermen John Wirth, John Hawkins, Dan Gannon and Mark Seider voted against it, objecting not to having the preserve but to some of the terms of the agreement and the fact that the resolution tied them to a lease they have not yet agreed to.

Nuernberg, who attended the meeting, said it had always been the city's intent to take ownership of the land, which was partially purchased with $8 million in donations, plus another $2 million from the city.

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