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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Marinette Council Approves Search for New City Hall Site

Issue Date: January 4, 2017

The Marinette City Council, at a meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 3, gave Mayor Steve Genisot permission to begin looking into new City Hall locations following lengthy discussion about the city's needs.

Genisot said that Alderperson Ken Keller has already been taking city officials and city council members through the former Marinette County Law Enforcement Center on Ella Court.

While that was discussed as an option, City Council President Dorothy Kowalski said "I think we need to take the emphasis off the Ella Court building, because that's an option. We're looking at the possibility of that being an option. We don't even know if that would work out."

Kowalski also said she did not even believe Genisot needed the council's permission to go out and explore options, but she appreciated him doing so. "I would like to thank him for bringing it to council and giving us an opportunity to be a part of it," she said.

Some concern came from Alderperson Jason Flatt, who said he had not had ample time to review the 2013 needs assessment report regarding the police department and City Hall.

"I guess I can't endorse a resolution that references a report that I know I haven't read, and I know a lot of other members here have not read," Flatt said. "I don't know if the report says we need space or we have too much space. I don't feel comfortable endorsing a resolution when a key bit of information hasn't been provided."

While Flatt's concerns were acknowledged, Genisot and other members said he was not being given permission to make any decisions, but just to look into other options. "I don't think the resolution authorizes me to get into any specific agreement, it is just a resolution asking for the option."

Keller said the police department has been short on room for over 40 years, and it hasn't shrunk, it has grown. "The opportunity is there to explore this option," he said in reference to the building at Ella Court. "I definitely support the resolution authorizing the mayor to explore the options for relocation of City Hall. It doesn't say it's limited to the Ella Court."

Keller said that the city would be in line for some expenditures at the current building down the road. "If we wait for the full common council to be aware of all the knowledge, that usually never happens when we have staggered terms," he said.

Alderperson Brian Walters seemed to echoe that statement. "If we waited for every single council member to be on the same page, doing our own type of thing" it would take forever for this type of analysis to happen, so we delegate responsibility to our mayor." He also agreed with Kowalski in saying that Ella Court was not the only option to be considered.

Kowalski said "I would just like to see us start moving and looking at possibilities, rather than sitting and waiting for the HVAC to go, or for them to tell us we need to replace the stairs, or that the elevator is out of compliance" We're not authorizing anything specific in terms of a place that we would move to, we're not making any financial commitments or anything like that."

Alderperson John Marx encouraged all council members to read the needs assessment thoroughly. "There's a lot of information in there" I encourage you to read it, study it, come up with any questions so that we don't continue to kick this can down the road. We're going to reach a point where we have some major costs come in to us, and we need to be prepared for it."

Walters said that the council's summer tour of Marinette and its facilities was helpful. "I thought it was pretty plain to see that we didn't have the adequate space for what we needed."

Flatt wondered how the facility, which has served the committee for decades, now needed more space, despite the city's population decreasing by 10 percent or more. Genisot said the need was for more effective or useful space, rather than simply more space, while noting the building's concerns. "We have pockets of this building that are not used very wisely or not easily changeable. Probably the more important thing is some of our costs as we go forward."

Walters said that the city's duties may have changed, which would be unrelated to the city's population. "While I understand where you're coming from, I don't think it's an apples-to-apples comparison," he said to Flatt.

Flatt cast the sole vote in opposition to the resolution, as every other council member voted in favor.

Genisot also announced the city's purchase of 14.69 acres of property on Pierce Avenue from the Marinette School District, which is planned to be the site of the future City of Marinette Recreation/ Convention Center.

Walters, who is the director of business and finance at the school and Alderperson, said "I think it's a great partnership between the city and the school district, and I hope there's more of that in the future."

A land donation was made from Linda G. Shaw on behalf of the Linda G. Shaw Trust for a portion of land located between Riverside Avenue and the Menominee River, which contains the city's statue for Queen Marinette.


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