By Roger Utnehmer
When Sturgeon Bay taxpayers put up with piles of dirt for years and wait for the Department of Natural Resources to issue a ruling on the west-side waterfront for months, it is clear that people in government are not doing their jobs.
The dirt piles in downtown Sturgeon Bay are a community disgrace. They symbolize the dysfunction that pervades city government and its failure to resolve the controversy over west-side waterfront development. Mayor Thad Birmingham has refused to even discuss efforts to preserve the iconic granary and the more than $1.5 million in pledges to preserve it. An intransigent city administration has consistently refused to negotiate with those who oppose its development plans. And now the DNR has delayed the ruling on the ordinary high water mark along the west-side shoreline that will determine where development can occur and where lakebed must be preserved for public use. The DNR delay is a disgrace. If private-sector employees put off doing their job as long as the DNR has delayed issuing a high-water mark ruling, heads would roll.
The DNR has had more than sufficient time to research, review testimony, study case law and issue a determination. It’s time to rule. And it’s time to remove the eyesore that plagues Sturgeon Bay by leveling dirt piles now. If there is any good reason why Mayor Thad Birmingham has not simply ordered city crews to level the dirt piles he should share it now. It’s time for action.
That’s my opinion. I’d like to hear yours.