01STOCK_MILTON_SIGN

Things are on the right track for the new chocolate factory under construction in Milton.

During a virtual common council meeting Tuesday night, members of the board discussed and approved an industrial track agreement with Clasen Quality Chocolates to construct a new rail spur which will service the new the 390,000-square-foot facility currently under construction north of Putnam Parkway.

The agreement—which includes paying $1.5 million for the rail spur, which will be reimbursed—was the final step in securing Transportation Economic Assistance, or TEA, grant funds needed to move the project forward.

Milton City Administrator Al Hulick said at the meeting the agreement was the result of multiple conversations over the past two months with the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad, Clasen Chocolates and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

“We’re in a good spot to have these agreements finally,” he said. “It’s been much like many other aspects of this project—it’s been very complicated because of the length of the track.”

A previous effort to establish a new at-grade railroad crossing stalled in late September due to the approval of a new railroad crossing on County M. The addition, approved by Wisconsin Commissioner of Railroads Yash Wadhwa, set the development back nine months, as reported by The Courier in October.

Alderman Lynda Clark asked whether the city would be responsible for any future railroad maintenance or construction.

City attorney Mark Schroeder said the city will be responsible initially only for construction of the track from south of the western end of Putnam Parkway east. Once completed, the city will be reimbursed by the TEA grant, as well as Clasen. Unstated was the amount the city will be expected to spend to get the rail spur installed.

Any future costs related to ordinary repair and maintenance would be the responsibility of the railroad, with Milton being responsible for costs only at their own discretion, according to Schroeder.

Hulick gave no timetable for construction of the rail project, but the chocolate factory is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

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