By Roger Utnehmer
Sturgeon Bay’s City Administrator Josh VanLieshout does not think much of a proponent of saving the city’s waterfront granary.
In a series of emails released by the city under an Open Records request, Administrator Josh VanLieshout advises a council member to be reluctant about meeting with Hans Christian, head of a group working to preserve the granary by establishing a Center for the Arts.
VanLieshout, in an email to council member Richard Wiesner, says about Christian, “It is difficult to give this guy the time of day considering the pretty negative positions he has taken to the City in the past and that although not a named plaintiff, is certainly associated with a group that is suing the City.”
VanLieshout also says he’d be reluctant to go to a meeting with Christian alone and “I don’t know if they have any real money behind them to underwrite the project.”
A single family has pledged through the Door Community Foundation to provide $1.25 million to save the granary if the city and proponents of saving the structure agree on a plan. The validity of that pledge has been confirmed by Door County Community Foundation Executive Director Bret Bicoy.
The release of emails also shows that Sturgeon Bay Mayor Thad Birmingham and Fire Chief Tim Dietman are communicating with members of the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority and City Council on private, rather than city, email accounts. Messages to Waterfront Redevelopment Authority member John Asher from Birmingham are from Birmingham’s Hotmail account rather than the City of Sturgeon Bay email account.
Dietman uses a personal Gmail account to share information with Asher, rather than a city account. Asher, in a message to Birmingham to his private email account, suggests he could store a couple beams from the granary on his Roen Salvage Company property “to get the Friends Group off your back down the road. Just offering, frankly, I don’t give a s- – – -.”
Former City Council and Waterfront Redevelopment Authority member Cap Wulf is also involved in the email communications. He references a “planned development” for the waterfront and charges the “Friends/historical society” wouldn’t want to cooperate and refers to them as people who “know what’s best for us and will ram it down our throats if we don’t agree.”
Wulf left the city council after entering an Alford plea to a charge of using his position of public trust for personal gain. He also resigned from the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority amid questions of conflict-of-interest relating to his ownership of property that was developed into apartment buildings on the waterfront.
Interested citizens can read the entire series of email messages released by the City of Sturgeon Bay by clicking on this story at DoorCountyDailyNews.com.