By Roger Utnehmer
Sturgeon Bay Waterfront Redevelopment Authority Member John Asher voted recently to oppose a settlement agreement that would end a lawsuit over use of the city west-side waterfront.
Asher cited two major reasons for his vote. He said the lot size in the proposed settlement would not allow a brew pub and hotel to be constructed. The city had interest in a brew pub at the granary site and a hotel development nearby, since withdrawn by Robert Papke. “I doubt you’ll find anyone interested in adding $10.5 million to the city tax base with that line pushed back as far as it is in this settlement,” Asher said.
With the proposed lot line in the settlement agreement, Asher said a parking lot would be on the waterfront with a hotel set back a significant distance. “Tourists,” he said, “do not come to a hotel to look out at a parking lot.”
He also recalled a conversation with City Parks and Recreation Director Bob Bordeau who said the city already has 19 parks at a cost of $800,000 a year to maintain.
Asher said Bordeau told him Sturgeon Bay does not need more parks. According to Asher, Bordeau said the city is already “stressed” supporting the parks it has.
“Taxpayers,” Asher said, “sooner or later are going to ask when is enough enough.”
Asher was one of five members of the WRA who voted to reject a settlement agreement reached between the Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront and the city, effectively scuttling the compromise.
Because the WRA is a party to the lawsuit, the authority must vote to approve the settlement. The Sturgeon Bay City Council has voted to accept the agreement.
Asher told DoorCountyDailyNews.com west-side business owners feel like they’re the “step sons of the city,” stuck with dirt piles. “With a hotel, there would be more people walking up and down the streets,” Asher said.
He concluded his interview saying, “We can do better. There is just not enough information about what could be done with the proposed lot size.”