By Roger Utnehmer
Action at Tuesday’s meeting of the Sturgeon Bay city council could mean the end of the west-side waterfront dirt piles, the controversial Waterfront Redevelopment Authority and the employment of city administrator Josh VanLieshout.
The council voted six to one to direct city staff to spread the dirt piled on the property of the proposed Lindgren hotel. Sturgeon Bay developer Robert Papke claims ownership of the dirt piles even though he has abandoned his plans to build a hotel on the site. He is suing the city for more than $500,000 claiming he was misled by Sturgeon Bay officials. The city owns the property but Papke has a development agreement which remains in effect through June of 2019. All council members voted to remove the dirt piles with the exception of David Ward.
By the same six to one vote council members agreed to begin the process of abolishing the Waterfront Redevelopment Authority. The WRA negotiated hotel development plans with Papke that have resulted in the litigation between the city, WRA, and Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront. Council members instructed staff to consult with legal counsel and develop steps to abolish the WRA with its responsibilities to be assumed by the council itself.
Council member Kelly Catarozoli asked that a discussion about the employment status of city administrator Josh VanLieshout be placed on the agenda for the next common council meeting in two weeks. She told DoorCountyDailyNews.com she intends to introduce a motion at that meeting to terminate VanLieshout’s employment with the city of Sturgeon Bay.
The council went into closed session to discuss lawsuits resulting from the west side waterfront development issues with Papke and Friends of the Sturgeon Bay Public Waterfront.