Marinette County Board rejects Campus Redevelopment Committee

By: 
Shirley Prudhomme

MARINETTE – By 21-to-8 vote the board rejected a proposal to create a UW-Marinette Campus Special Redevelopment Committee to investigate future uses of the UW-Marinette campus. As stated in the resolution, “…the Committee is created for the purpose of identifying redevelopment alternatives and obstacles that may exist which would hinder the redevelopment, and to report findings and make recommendations to the Marinette Infrastructure Committee not later than March 5, 2025.”

Votes in favor of creating the committee were cast by Supervisors Mark Anderson, Jim Bird, Tom Buelteman, Jon Baumgarten, Michael Ebsch, Allen England, Stan Gruszynski and Irene Mayou.

Among those voting against the enabling resolution was Board Chair John Guarisco, who stepped down from his post as chair to speak as the Supervisor from District 9 and explain his reasons for preferring to have the issue left with the Infrastructure Committee and County Administrator John LeFebvre. 

Guarisco said “I have every confidence in the Infrastructure Committee… They have been knowledgeable about this from day one and I think they should continue to make the decisions.”

Supervisor Bonnie Popp noted the added opportunity for citizen input was one of the reasons for the advisory committee suggestion, and asked if members of the public could come to Infrastructure committee meetings and talk. Guarisco expected the committee chair would allow that.

Supervisor Connie Seefeldt said her main concern was whether or not the Infrastructure Committee had time for that along with its many other responsibilities. She asked if they would be allowed to hold extra meetings if necessary without being scolded about adding to county expenses.

Guarisco said that should be the case. “This is a matter of getting public input….This is as very big decision…It involves a piece of this county that everyone has an interest in….Let’s not discourage public participation.” Hanson suggested holding some infrastructure meetings at night when more members of the public could be involved.

Allen, as chair of the Infrastructure Committee, gave his word that public participation will be allowed at their meetings, and the County Board would get a full meeting report.

Popp suggested that hiring a consultant could be helpful.

Supervisor Tim Pelzek thanked LeFebvre for bringing so much information to the Infrastructure Committee. He was concerned that the proposed special committee would have three non-elected members, and he thinks LeFebvre has been doing a good job.

Several supervisors commented their constituents want to have their say on the use of county property.

There have been suggestions that the county should get an appraisal of the property value, including the possibility of converting Runnoe Park to some other use, possibly by a zoning change, and LeFebvre has mentioned that officials of the adjacent private Pine Beach Club have expressed interest.

Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot at previous meetings has expressed determination that Runnoe Park is to remain a park, and open to the public. 

LeFebvre expressed concern about how creation of another layer in the negotiating processes could affect proceedings, the Field House for example has YMCA and other organizations expressed interest.

Gruszynski argued that this would be an advisory committee, with no power to decide anything.

The board approved renewing a one-year memorandum of understanding with River Cities Community Pool Association for use of the former UW-Green Bay Field House with the swimming pool, gymnasium, meeting rooms and adjoining athletic fields, with only the dates changed. The County will continue contributing up to $3,000 per month toward utility costs and invoice the Pool Association for anything over that. The Pool Association is to provide liability insurance and take care of routine maintenance and repairs costing less than $5,000. Repairs costing $5,000 or more will be considered major and the County will be responsible for the entire expense. There are options for either party to end the agreement with 30 days notice.

At the start of the meeting Judge Peggy Miller, the newly appointed judge for Circuit Court Branch 1, introduced herself to the board.

Supervisor Seefeldt introduced Danielle Lemke of UW Extension Health and Well Being and Beka Bussineau, Coach for Bridges to Recovery. They reported on the UW-Extension Hosts Northwoods Forum in Lac du Flambeau on issues affecting Northern Wisconsin. Seefeldt urged other supervisors to attend informational meetings to share thoughts with supervisors and officials from other counties and benefit from all the information provided.

Annual reports were given by Medical Examiner Kalynn Van Ermen, Sheriff Randy Miller and Jail Administrator Bob Majewski.

Appointments made by LeFebvre and/or Guarisco to various positions were approved without discussion or dissent. They are Supervisor Rick Thill to the 911 User Committee; Supervisors Tom Buelteman and Gail Wanek to the Chapter 5 Grievance Committee; Gail Wanek to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee; Lake District representatives: Ken Hanson for Beecher Lake, Tom Mandli for Lake Noquebay, Chris Norton for McCaslin Lake and Melanie Olson for Shannon Lake; County Conservationist Chuck Druckrey  and Supervisor Tom Mandli to the Lake Michigan Area Land & Water Conservation Association; Supervisors Wally Hitt and Michael Ebsch to the Lumberjack Resource Conservation & Development Council, Inc.; Supervisor Allen England to Mississippi Valley Health Services, Inc.; Supervisor Wally Hitt to the Natural Resource Conservation Service Local Workgroup; Supervisor Roger Allen to the Traffic Safety Commission; Supervisor Hank Novak to the Wisconsin Counties Forests Association and Supervisor Stan Gruszynski to the Wisconsin Counties Utilities Tax Association.

Other board actions, all by approved by unanimous vote, included changing the status of Marinette County Foresters from salaried to hourly employees to allow overtime as needed; replacing an AODA Counselor position with a Mental Health Therapist position, effective immediately, and adopting the 2025 Budget Policy and Budget Schedule as proposed by LeFebvre and approved by the Administrative Committee.

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