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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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City Declines To Pay Toward Rock Crib Demolition In River

By a very split vote at their regular monthly meeting Wednesday, Nov. 7, Peshtigo City Council declined an invitation from the Town of Peshtigo to split the $12,000 cost of demolishing the rock “cribs” that once lurked just below the surface, posing hazards for boaters on the river in the Badger Park area above the dam in Peshtigo. The work has been done, paid for mostly by the Town of Peshtigo.

Aldermen Mary Lock, Fred Meintz and Tom Gryzwa voted in favor of a motion to decline paying. Aldermen Cathi Malke and Tim Colburn abstained, and Alderman Mike Behnke opposed. The motion thus passed by a three to one margin. The two abstentions did not count either way.

The city’s share would have been $5,000, since $2,000 had been collected in donations for the $12,000 project.

It was pointed out in defense of the Council decision that the city this year unilaterally paid for some major improvements that benefit everyone who uses the flowage. Those projects include the recently installed tornado warning sirens and the costly dredging project to clean up portions of the river bed mainly adjoining Badger Park and the school property.

Mayor Al Krizenesky presented some background information when the issue came up for discussion under the Finance and Claims Committee report near the start of a busy Council agenda.

Krizenesky said he had discussed the issue with Peshtigo Town Chair Herman Pottratz, but had made no promises, except that the town’s request would be discussed and voted on at the Council meeting.

In the heyday of the lumber industry in Marinette County the cribs were used as work sites for the men who kept logs moving on their way to mills in Peshtigo and the shipping port downstream at Peshtigo Harbor.

The logging era ended. The water level rose in the flowage as a result of the dam, but the “cribs” remained, lurking just below the surface. The hazard was revealed when the river was drawn down early this year for construction of the new bridge and repairs to the Wisconsin Public Service dam. The issue was brought to the city’s attention in July by the Eric and Cindy Anderson, who became leaders of a community fund raising effort to get the cribs knocked down.

After speaking with the City Council and receiving their blessings for fund raising, the Eric Andersons went also to the Town of Peshtigo for help with funding. There the idea was so well received at a special town meeting with 28 electors present that a motion was unexpectedly made and passed to have the town pay the entire $12,000 so the project could get underway. “Herman (Pottratz) wasn’t happy about that,” Krizenesky commented.

At that time only about $2,000 had been donated for the project. When the town appropriated the entire amount needed, prospects for further donations dried up, Krizenesky felt. The work has been done, and many feel the the river is now safer. But paying the tab remains an issue.

Meintz said Pottratz had also talked with him about sharing the cost, but was reminded that the city had taken the lead in setting up a means for accepting tax free donations before the town approved the motion to pay the entire $12,000.

Behnke recalled the reason for accepting donations in the first place was that there was no money in the city budget, numerous other projects were already coming out of city coffers, and a fair amount of controversy had arisen over the entire issue.

Not everyone was in favor of the project. Richard and Lois Anderson, also city residents, maintained that the cribs were historic structures that should be protected. Others feared leaving rocky debris on the river bed would harm the fish population, a concern the DNR said was unfounded.

Eventually Lock offered a motion stating: “We would like to thank the Town of Peshtigo for the opportunity to participate in the rock pile demolition but we are declining to help pay for it at this time.” That motion was seconded by Meintz and approved by the three to one margin.

Before her decision to abstain, Malke declared she was torn on the issue, “I really do feel we have a responsibility to make our river safer.” She added the safer river does help the city, “and I feel we should do our share.”

Behnke noted the city had given its blessings for the fund raising, and the Andersons had not asked them for money, but nevertheless voted against the motion to not help pay toward the project.

Krizenesky reported a new Dollar Store is moving into the city and will be located on the former site of the First Stop Auto used car dealer. He joked that the Dollar Store was not his first choice, “I’d have liked a Fleet Farm!”

Bid of Advance Construction, Inc. for the 2012 Street enhancement project for $569,597.35 was accepted as recommended by the Streets and Drainage Committee, contingent on meeting DOT requirements and gaining their approval. Council was informed that because there was only one bid for the project the state review process is a bit different, and authorization to go ahead with the work has not yet been received.

The new decorative street lights are ordered but will not be received for several weeks, and it may be impossible to get them in before spring. In the meantime, there are some seriously dark intersections. Council approved agreements with WPS to have temporary replacement lights installed at East Front Street and French Street and at the alley between East Front Street and Emery Ave., plus a light on the corner of French Street and Chicago Court. Cost for each light will be about $30 per month. The contract is for three years, but WPS has agreed to allow less time provided the city agrees to pay for getting the pipes out. Krizenesky said he also had a request for a new light at the corner between Bill Brown’s Supper Club and the motel, and stressed that the request did not come from Alderman Colburn, who owns the motel.

Meintz reported the city’s Clean Water Fund application has been submitted.

Several large payments were approved for contractors working on Storm Water Management projects. There is a $15,000 hold back on payment to RelyCo, Inc. for their $92,633 invoice to insure that some site restoration issues are completed.

Other items approved included:

*Appointment of James Finger and Sharon Anderson to the Peshtigo Housing Authority Commission, retroactive to Oct. 1, for terms that will end in 2017;

*A request from Lock, as president of Peshtigo Woman’s Club, for a refund of the $180 they paid to rent the Henry Drees Community Center on Tuesday, Sept. 11;

*Providing a cell phone for Building Inspector Ronald Banach, with Malke opposed;

*A bartender’s license for Jamie Alexandra Fairchild;

*Having the city clerk/treasurer’s office again collect both first and second half of property tax installments, rather than hire the county;

*Bids will be sought for sale of the light poles, arms and fixtures being replaced as part of the downtown beautification, since at least two parties have expressed interest in buying them.

*BPM, Inc. will be paid $13,195 for the Wastewater Treatment Plant aeration basins cleanout.


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Peshtigo, WI 54157
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