Following a lengthy discussion on the town’s responsibility to fund a hotel feasibility study for a group interested in bringing a new hotel to Three Lakes, the Three Lakes Town Board tabled the issue to give supervisors more time to review study proposals that were submitted to the town office.
Town Chairman Jeff Bruss, who has been in favor of spending up to $10,000 of town funds for the study, said the continued loss of revenue to the tax base and sanitary district, loss of room taxes, as well as lack of hotel space for tourism and loss of business to local merchants was far more costly in the long term than spending town dollars for the study.
Supervisor Jeff Boehm disagreed, restating his previous stance that the town should not be spending money that has not been allocated, and allow those interested parties to supply their own feasibility study for this project.
Bruss did not totally disagree with Boehm’s stance, but also reminded the board that the group interested in developing the property where the former Oneida Village Inn once stood specifically asked the town to provide the study.
“This all came out of a meeting I had with the developer . . . and the developer said they would not proceed with Three Lakes as a location for a Cobblestone franchise hotel unless we had one of these (studies) on file,” said Bruss.
“Additionally, Cobblestone has agreed if they build a hotel here, because this comes back positively, they will reimburse us for this,” said Bruss.
One person who had submitted a proposal for the feasibility study was present at the meeting. Phillip Epping of Eagle River was asked by Supervisor Matt Olkowski how most studies of this type are funded. 
Epping responded that 80% of the time the developer, or hotel chain in this case, pays for their own study, while 20% of the time the property owner pays for the study.
This brought forth another point of discussion; the town does not own the property in question, the Oneida Village site, yet is willing to spend funds for a private property owner and hotel chain to potentially benefit from the study through the sale of the property without any cost to the property owner or to the hotel chain.
Olkowski agreed with Boehm, stating that it was unusual that a developer would not provide their own study for this type of venture, rather than have a third party involved.
“We solicited the developer to come here and look as an option for a Cobblestone hotel,” said Bruss. “They didn’t approach us. They said, ‘we will look at it, but we’re not going to look at it unless you can prove to us that it would make sense to build a Cobblestone here.’ ”
Bruss further said that two other developers stated the same; that the town would have to provide a feasibility study before they would consider Three Lakes as an option for a hotel.
Supervisor Steve Garbowicz said he had mixed feelings about the town funding the study.
“I’m not crazy that, as a governmental entity, we are spending money that typically would be coming from a private developer. I think what changes this is the impact of the loss of the (Oneida Village), just in the tax revenue alone,” said Garbowicz. “Not to mention the impact that it’s going to have on the rest of the downtown area and the businesses that sit there. I’m not crazy about spending this kind of money, on the other hand I am really not crazy about the hole (in our) downtown, and that has to be fixed. Whatever we can do to expedite that, I would be in favor of that.”
Boehm reiterated his stance, stating that he did not feel it is the town’s responsibility to spend taxpayer funds for this study and that the developer and land owner should have some stake in this venture. 
“I want to know as a town chairman, is it feasible for us to have a hotel, restaurant, something on that corner . . . I would like to have that knowledge. This (study) buys us that. This is research to me,” said Bruss in response to Boehm.
To move the process along, Boehm offered a motion to reject all seven feasibility study proposals submitted and allow the private sector to take the lead and supply their own study. The motion failed on a 2-3 vote, with supervisors Boehm and Olkowski in favor of the motion, while Bruss, Garbowicz and Ed Starke voted against the motion. 
Bruss then made a motion to table the issue and allow further time to review the proposals; the motion passed 4-1 with  Boehm casting the dissenting vote.
In other action, the town board approved an event permit requested by the Three Lakes Chamber of Commerce for the annual Shoot Out & Radar Run planned for June 20, on Maple Lake. This is a change in location for the annual event previously held on Big Stone Lake on Highway 32 east of Three Lakes. The permit was unanimously approved.
The town has been contacted by the Three Lakes Fish & Wildlife Improvement Association (TLFWIA) asking for assistance in improving the boat landing on Medicine Lake.
An estimate of $50,000 for the project was presented with TLFWIA supporting half and asking the town to support the other half of the cost. 
It was recommended that this issue be put in the discussions when planning the 2021 town budget.