The City of Milton Common Council approved Nov. 4 submitting an application for a Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Facilities Economic Assistance (TEA) grant in partnership with Clasen Quality Chocolates, Inc. If awarded, the money will be used to help finance a rail spur extension which is proposed to service a 169-acre site, which Clasen is looking to develop, and over 150 acres of undeveloped land along Putman Parkway and County Trunk M.
In a memo to council, City Administrator Al Hulick noted that the TEA grant, if awarded, would fund up to 50% of what he said during the council meeting was “roughly about a $3.5 million rail extension.”
The grant requires that a municipality serve as applicant, however, Hulick said, the city of Milton would not be a partner in the funding of the project. The city will have jurisdictional control and will administer and oversees the design and development of the infrastructural improvement, he wrote.
“We will be partnering with Clasen Quality Chocolates for the application of this grant. The grant guidelines require that a municipality be the entity that applies for the grant, but as you can see in the resolution and future agreement with Clasen Quality Chocolates, they will be paying for their portion of the facility,” Hulick said.
Plans call for the full cost of the project to be shared with 50% of the money coming through the grant, and the remainder of any costs coming from Clasen, Hulick said.
“As long as all other contingencies of the project move forward … the city of Milton would be the applicant, but all income would be handled through Clasen Quality Chocolates,” he said.
Councilmember Larry Laehn asked: “The contingencies have to be met before the grant is released or is it the other way around?”
Said Hulick: “There are a number of contingencies associated with this project and in the event that those contingencies are not met, ultimately it is still the intension of the city and Clasen Quality Chocolates to move forward with this application, but as the process moves forward, if the contingencies for the development project on whole are not met, even if awarded this grant application, Clasen would not move forward with this extension at this time.
“There is really no reason to foresee that coming, but …even by submitting this three are still items that will need to be satisfied for the project to come to fruition. This isn’t the only piece of the puzzle. This is a very large mosaic.”
Laehn asked: “The city is in no way held hostage by the process?”
Hulick responded: “No. The city has no financial obligation in this specific TEA grant application. Whether the application is approved or not, or the project moves forward or not, the city is not legally bound for any financial obligation at this time.”
“This is the first time we have released the name the developer,” Hulick said, adding the developer’s name was required on the city’s resolution to approve the grant application.
Clasen Quality ChocolatesAccording to information about the company shared online, Clasen Quality Chocolates has its corporate headquarters in Madison and facilities in Middleton, Watertown and Sparks, Nev.
A written history notes that the company was formed in 1959 by German immigrant brothers who opened a European bakery in Madison. The business grew from a small-scale local business, becoming Clasen Candy Company in 1966. Four years later, the brothers began producing and marketing their own confectioner’s coating and changed the company’s name to Clasen Quality Coatings, Inc. In 1998, Ralph Clasen sold the company to a private entrepreneur who continues to own the company and has developed it from a regional compound coating manufacture to a “major supplier of both standard and customized formulations and value-added confectionery ingredients across North America.”
In 2009, the company began operating its own trucking fleet.