MARINETTE â The Town of Marinette Community Development Plan is nearing its final stage of review and should be completed early next year. City planner Amanda Arnold of Ayres Associates, Inc, an engineering consultant, presented the plan in its current state at a community meeting on Wednesday and gathered feedback from residents in attendance.
During the presentation, Arnold identified five main goals for the city:
- Marinette Marketing to individuals and businesses
- Increase housing
- Encourage redevelopment and investment
- Support businesses
- Providing the resources people need to live well
The presence of per- and polyfluoroalkylated substances (PFAS) in the city is a permanent obstacle to the community’s marketing to foreigners, said a resident.
She believed that PFAS mitigation should be the top priority of the plan, as it impacts the city’s image and almost any development projects the city might undertake.
âI think we need a big investment to fix what we now know to be a major environmental disaster in our region,â she said. “It could go a long way, I think it would be a great starting point to literally help everything else (in this shot).”
The resident indicated, to this effect, that she would like to see more PFAS tests so that the city can have a better idea of ââthe extent of the contamination.
Marinette Mayor Steve Genisot said the city hopes to partner with the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB) for more research and testing of PFAS. Alderman Doug Oitzinger also suggested that the hospital – Aurora Medical Center-Bay Area – and local medical clinics partner with UWGB to examine the health impacts of this contamination.
In terms of attracting people to the area, Arnold brought up the idea of ââoffering monetary incentives for people to move to Marinette, a strategy that other cities across the country like. Baltimore, Maryland, are already implemented. She said the idea is for the city to get money back when people, for example, buy a house.
But other resources and infrastructure would be needed to help the city thrive and make people want to stay.
Attracting and supporting business is part of it, but not without risks.
âMost downtown storefronts are suitable for small businesses, and we know that small businesses tend to start and fail at a very rapid rate,â said Alderman Jeffrey Skorik. âSay I want to set up a pottery shop there, how does someone do a feasibility study to see if it’s a risk worth taking? “
A former city councilor and resident of Marinette told the EagleHerald that in order to support businesses, he believes there needs to be more parking across the city as well, a topic that has long been controversial in the community. Marinette resident Mathew Peterson also told the EagleHerald that parking was a major issue for him personally as many workers at the Fincantieri Marinette Marine shipyard use the spaces around his home.
Part of this parking constraint could be alleviated as soon as the shipyard continues to expand lots for its workers.
During the presentation, Peterson said he would also like to see more broadband service providers in the city, especially since he is working from home.
Spectrum is currently the city’s main Internet service provider. CenturyLink also operates in the area, but Peterson said the service is not comparable because it cannot offer the same speed. âI have to have a really good and reliable internet to do my job,â he said. âPersonally speaking, when it comes to infrastructure, I actually need broadband more than roads. “
Some residents wanted more areas to be included in the development focus of the plan. Currently, much of the development priority is in downtown Marinette and Stephenson Island. Alderman Mike Wolfe has said he would like Menekaunee to be added as a focal point.
Other members of the community agreed. Marinette resident Kathy Korchak told EagleHerald specifically that she would like to see better roads, more lighting and systems to mitigate flooding in Menekaunee, the region where she resides. âIt’s a nice place, especially with the boat launch, but it can be difficult to get to,â she said.
Towards the end of the presentation, Skorik asked Arnold who would be responsible for following up on the plan once the city adopts it.
Arnold said cities generally have a municipal planner who would be responsible for doing this. Since the Town of Marinette does not have one, it would have to establish its own strategy to ensure that the plan is implemented.
Not all residents were convinced by the proposed improvement plans.
âI don’t think anything in this shot would affect me,â Peterson told Arnold after the presentation. âI don’t think that will convince me to stay.