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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Public Comments Period Dominates Marinette Council

Issue Date: August 13, 2021

There were several people that spoke in public comment at the City of Marinette Common Council meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 4.

Jim Behrens spoke first in reference to the traffic of tandem dump trucks on Hattie Court, stating "They are loud and disruptive when they go through there with trucks passing through there an average of every 2.8 minutes from 7:30 a.m. to approximately 5:30 p.m."

Mark Johnson then echoed the same thoughts of the issue of large dump trucks, saying, "In the past few years this has increased. There are 11 households with driveways on Hattie Court along with some having driveways on Stephenson and Riverside. Behrens used a camera and if you stretch the 2.8 minutes out throughout the day over 10 hours that is 100 trucks one direction and 100 trucks returning the other direction with turning the corners and braking and it is otherwise really a quiet residential neighborhood in the historical residential district. When they were doing the construction on the old law enforcement center and also the bank parking lot, we could understand because they had to go to Menominee to dump and pickup loads but now they are not coming from there at all, they are coming from elsewhere. We think they should be taking more main roads to get there rather than going through a normally quiet residential zone. We would speak in favor in that becoming a no truck zone from Ella Court as per a recommendation from the Civic Affairs Traffic Lights Cemetery Committee to block off that area there from trucks".

Comments then moved into discussions of construction plans for Main and Ludington Streets, starting with Kim Brooks commenting, "With the Main and Ludington Streets construction plans, I am hopeful that you all acknowledge whatever we cast in concrete next year will be with us for generations. We need to ensure our choices to improve our downtown that is currently broken and need include strategies to eliminate flight, and foster downtown growth and use that money in a way that it is just the first phase of an overall downtown redevelopment. There are 50 years of comprehensive plans. We did one in the 70s, updated it in the 80s and 90s and in 2004 did what was called the 2020 plan All the plans talked about the need for downtown redevelopment . I think we haven't tried to do that because it is really hard and has been kicked forward time and time again. I am hopeful that whatever Ayres presents tonight will employ strategies that will help us have a more vibrant downtown because part of our recruitment and retention problems stem from not enough community opportunities here and downtown could be part of the solution".

Martha Karbon also spoke of the Main and Ludington street construction stating, "Several weeks ago there was an open meeting with vibrant discussion amongst the users and downtown businesses about redevelopment. I realize the purpose from an engineering standpoint is to move traffic, but we need to find a really good solution that will move traffic, pedestrians and bicycles and at the same time help to redevelop a really struggling downtown area. What I am asking is when you see the Ayres plan tonight be really mindful of how this will move into the next several generations and perhaps, take a step back for a week or two so you have time to see this plan three dimensionally by going downtown several times during the day to see how that plan would play out. It always looks different in two dimensional and hard to imagine how those things turn out. I am just asking that you take your time and you have a really really good plan moving forward".

Several people then voiced their concerns on the agenda item of the water resolution for Town of Peshtigo. Retired Hydrogeologist Water Specialist Jeff Lamont started with, "I am here to talk about the reconsideration of the resolution passed on July 6 to not support the Town of Peshtigo even with any discussions about extensions or salable water to the town in the PFAS impacted zone. Last month I mentioned about community. These are people that are your sons, your daughters, your children, your brothers and your sisters that live adjacent to Marinette. I just want to reemphasize the cash, the money and the long term revenue source by selling water to the Town of Peshtigo. This is tens of thousands of dollars a year. Your plant has more capacity and not even using half the capacity of the plant so it has been very hard for me to understand why you would vote a resolution and not place one, with that opportunity to bring in tens of thousands of dollars with no additional investment".

Town of Peshtigo Supervisor Cindy Baur made a brief comment, "I am here to say thank you for reconsidering your stance on providing water for the Town of Peshtigo. Thank You!"

Ruth Kowalski then stated, "I am also here to talk to you about a conversation about water. We are not asking you to make a commitment at this point, we are asking you to be a part of a summit of solutions for us and I find it appalling that you will not come to the table for a discussion, so please reconsider".

Kayla Furton Town of Peshtigo Supervisor said, "I want to thank you for potentially reconsidering the resolution thats on the table again. I want to highlight that no positive step should come at any cost or detriment to anyone except for the responsible party. I also think that while we are separate municipalities operating in the best interest of our constituents we need to remember that we are one community, our problems are positive and our outcomes are inconstrictably linked. Thank you for reconsidering the resolution and we will be potentially moving forwardâ€.

Senior Program Manager Scott Wahl representing Tyco then spoke. Thank You for the opportunity to speak. We hope you remain open to the possibility of engaging of other parties to help meet our neighbors needs for a permanent drinking water solution. Since the resolution has passed on July 6, significant activities and productive discussions have taken place of all interested parties. Christine Haag, Director of Remediation and ReDevelopment program Department of Natural Resources (DNR) sent a letter officially requesting your participation in a facilitated discussion led by DNR and guided by an independent professional facilitator. The Town of Peshtigo held a special board meeting on July 30 and invited Tyco and the DNR to share information and options of providing clean drinking water and the next steps. Katie McGinty Chief Sustainability Office of Johnson Control (JCI) reiterated that Tyco is prepared to come to the table and discuss all costs associated with the long term drinking water solutions and should the City of Marinette decide to be involved in this project, it would be no cost to the city. Tyco has made it clear that they don't want to replace a water solution with any economic issue for the city, town or residents. Facilitated discussions that are scheduled to take place before the end of September would greatly benefit with the participation of the City of Marinette. Because discussions will include review of the technical, legal and financial considerations for various water supply options, participation will also allow the City the input and information needed to decide what is best for the City of Marinette. This council has been instrumental in moving solutions to the PFAS issues forward and we respectively ask you continue in the same vein reconsider the resolution, and instead come together with other parties to come to potential solutions for providing the impacted residents of the Town of Peshtigo with a permanent source of clean drinking water which is also in the best interest of the residents of Marinette".

Town of Peshtigo Chairperson Cindy Boyle then took the podium commenting, "I am a resident of the Town of Peshtigo and my husband and I also own properties in the City of Marinette. I start by saying I am delighted that we keep meeting this way and hope that we have more opportunities to do that. Thank you for putting this on the agenda for reconsideration of extending water to the Town. I would echo some of Scotts comments, I don't know if all of you had the chance to review some of Christine Haag's comments from the DNR really encouraging you to be a part of this conversation. I would like to, on behalf of the Town of Peshtigo, to do the same. It's a conversation, the last time I was here a month ago, some vague concerns were expressed that understandably stems from fear and those fears can be addressed but in order to address them we have to have an honest dialogue and honest conversation, and see where those fears can be washed away. I just really encourage you to please give a thoughtful consideration to voting down the resolution and taking it up again and then voting it down, and just coming to the table to have an honest dialogue and go from there. So I thank you for all of your time".

The last comment came from Pam Goes, resident of the City of Marinette, stating, "I was here a month ago to ask you to please consider having a discussion with Tyco and the entities involved in getting clean water to the Town of Peshtigo residents. There is nothing I can say here tonight that hasn't been said. The only thing I ask you is to ask yourself is why wouldn't you do that? What reason would you have for not coming to the table and simply having a discussion"!

Under the communications items, in his report, Mayor Steve Genisot updated the Council that the final grading and double chip sealing was completed in Menekaunee and it was a success. I invite you to go look at the roads that were done. It looks like a good option for the City. The Canadian National Railroad has agreed to work on three the major crossings in the city including the tracks on Hall Avenue which will be worked on first and then will continue to the Cleveland and Carney Avenue crossings after Hall Avenue is completed.

Sergeant Noll and Detective Lieutenant Ben Matzke did a presentation of a drone and how useful it would be for the Police Department. They showed a clip of bad guy versus good guy in a dark situation. The drone was able to show what the person had in his hand, facial expressions, who was all in the car and was able to provide the information of everything they would need to know without endangering law enforcement officers. The drone would be financed through donations and fund raisers with no cost to the city. The department has already received donations including $3,000 from the M&M Community Foundation, $1,000 from Kwik Trip and $1,000 from Walmart. Donations will also be provided by the Citizens Academy.

Mayor then returned to the communications agenda item of designating Friday, Aug. 20 as the City of Marinette Kids Day 2021. This is a yearly end of summer event and will be put on by the REC Center. There will be many activities for the kids to enjoy and a lunch will be provided as well as ice cream, all at no cost.

The resolution regarding reconsideration of the Marinette Municipal water service and the Town of Peshtigo was then discussed with Alderman Doug Oitzinger commenting, "To refresh everyones memory The City of Marinette is not interested in providing Municipal water service or wholesale water to the Town of Peshtigo and the city recommends that the town explore other options of obtaining water service for town residents. I am asking for reconsideration of this resolution. The City Council entered into a reimbursement agreement with Tyco on April 14, 2020 for $75,000 to hire consultants and attorneys. This agreement specifies that Tyco was asking the City to evaluate providing water service to TOP to see if this was a practical option. A contract was entered into with Ruekert Mielke. To my knowledge we don't have any of those answers. No evidence has been provided to support any decision. Once the Town connects with any other source of water, the Town of Marinette may very well close the door to any further expansion. The Town will be in a position to expand water services to commercial and industrial interests beyond our border with no say in how development proceeds along the Hwy 41 and County T corridor and what will the TOP attitude be on cooperation of marinette if we refuse to even talk to them. We should reconsider the resolution passed July 6. We have nothing to lose by talking to the Town, we have nothing to lose by getting the facts before we make a decision, we have everything to gain by finishing what was started with the engineering report and getting an independent evaluation of our options. We have everything to gain by sitting down at the table with our neighbors to talk about what is the practical solution for their clean water needs. I urge you to support this reconsideration.

Alderperson Liz Mikutowski then commented, I believe we are in the position here of running a business. the city is a business, this is a business decision but we don't have enough information to make this decision and we need to have all the information in front of us before we make a decision. In the meantime gather all the information and then engineering report, get all the facts, the pros and cons and in the meantime have a conversation with the residents and officials of the TOP. Information is power and for us to make decisions without information is irresponsible

Alderperson Rick Polzin interjected, "I see this as two separate issues when we passed resolution last time we said communication was open, that still applies. This does not cut off communication. The Mayor has reached out to the Town Chair. This resolution and anything else connected with it like meetings that can and will go on, we will have conversations. The resolutions just puts limits on what we are going to do and those limits come from past practice and come from protecting the tax base and residents of the city of marinette. I see them as two separate issues, nothing has changed since we passed this resolution. The Mayor has had communications with the town and we will see where this goes. The discussion that everyone wants will still occur. The private meetings and conversations were going on saying the city was going to do this and do that. All we are doing is taking it carefully and protecting the interests of the residents of Marinette. Discussions will still occur, this doesn't preclude any discussions and has been enforced by the Mayor.

Mikutowski interjected, addressing Polzin that she was confused because the resolution says, we will not provide water to the town of Peshtigo. Polzin and Alderperson Debbie Klegin both echoed, "It says we are not interested". Mikutowski replied, "Ok it says we are not interested, Say what you mean and mean what you say, what does that mean, we are just not interested"? Polzin interjected said, "Its all in negotiation". Oitzinger added, "I keep hearing it is not in the best interest in the City of Marinette, Thats an opinion. On any other place on this planet that means no. If the language of the resolution does not reflect what you think is going to happen then I suggest you change the resolution to we would be willing to have conversations but that is not what this says.

A motion was then made for reconsideration of Resolution # 10-21. There were four yes votes from Skorik, Oitzinger, Mikutowski and Flatt with four no votes being Polzin, Klegin, Kowalski and Keller. With the motion ending up in a tie Clerk Lana Bero read the statement, "Motion is at a tie. The motion is always lost in a tie vote if the President does not to choose to change that result, Mayor do you want to change the result"? Genisot responded, "No I don't think I am going to vote on this one". Bero replied, "Ok so the motion is lost".

Municipal Engineer Pete Kolaszewski of Ayres Associates then provided a presentation of the street designs for Main and Ludington Streets. After the several options presented by Kolaszewski there was much discussion and confusion of which choice to go with from the many different options presented: In the downtown area should it be one way or two way street, wider sidewalks and narrower street or wider street and narrower sidewalks, restructuring of parking spaces, parking on both or only one side of streets and no truck traffic allowed, etc.

With wanting to move forward with the project Kolaszewski and Ayres wanted an immediate decision of which option to go with but Council wanted to delay the decision with too much information to digest and also wanted input from those that will be affected the most, the business owners of the downtown area.

Comments were made including, We want the business owners to take the lead on this and tell us what they want to see; We need to make the downtown area more inviting; Parking and sidewalks are a big concern; How do we make sure the downtown area includes esthetics, enhancements, lighting, more appealing look, decorations, benches, garbage cans, colored lights, music piped in and more; There is a need to get feedback from the downtown and can't make a quick decision

The Council then voted to have Ayres meet with the businesses, gather information and input from the business owners and bring back to Council in a couple of weeks.


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