KAUKAUNA - Kaukauna is looking to develop a vacant lot that has been sitting empty for 20 years, but some area veterans are speaking out against the plan, saying it will tarnish an important memorial nearby.
To veteran Williard Rowe, Kaukauna's Ring of Honor in Veteran's Memorial Park is holy ground.
"It's a place you can go and find comfort," Rowe told FOX 11.
But now Kwik Trip is looking to build in the vacant lot right next door.
Thursday Kaukauna's plan commission approved the a special exemption to help allow Kwik Trip to go through with plan.
"That's a veterans memorial park and if you look in the engravings, on those pavers, that's the ones who sacrificed so much for our country and it's a slap in the face to them and their families," said Rowe.
Rowe told us the gas station will be too close. He said it will cut off parking access and take attention away from the memorial.
"I'm very concerned for the disabled and the elderly," Rowe explained.
The veterans are also concerned about future expansion and upkeep of the Ring of Honor, for example, will they be able to add additional memorial pavers?
"We're happy to work with the veterans. We're very thankful for their service and we will do our part to be good neighbors," Troy Mleziva, real estate manager for Kwik Trip told FOX 11, explaining the company has a history of supporting those who've served.
Kwik Trip and the city told us they've tried to accommodate the veterans.
"Kwik Trip has offered to put in 15 handicap-accessible stalls for the veterans, right up against the park," said Bob Jakel, Director of Planning and Community Development for Kaukauna.
In addition the plan calls for 10 street parking stalls for the memorial. The city would also close down part of a street to allow for parking on special occasions like Memorial Day.
Kwik Trip has agreed to use minimal lighting so as not to draw too much focus.
Leaders told us developing this lot is for the good of the entire city,
"It's been vacant for about 17 years and it's right in the heart of downtown, it is right on the major thoroughfare, Highway 55. So we do need to start development in that area," Jakel explained.
Rowe told us it would have been nice to be part of the planning process.
"Apparently the city does not support us. I think they let us down," he said.
The full city council still needs to approve the special exception.
Kwik Trip said it hopes to start building this fall.
Other development is planned for the site, a hotel may go on the opposite side of where the Kwik Trip would end up.