Allouez village board reacts to GBCI veto
By Lauren Waters
ALLOUEZ – The Allouez Village Board was discouraged upon hearing Gov. Tony Evers vetoed a measure to put $5 million into the state budget to move and/or improve the Green Bay Correctional Institution.
But after discussion at the Allouez board meeting on Tuesday, July 16, the board decided to stay the course and not give up the fight.
“From my perspective, it’s not a dead issue,” said Village President Jim Rafter. “It’s an issue upon which we should continue to pursue.”
Rafter said Gov. Evers’s corrections reform policy is hoping to reduce the overall population of the prisons, primarily at the minimum and medium security levels.
“What I think is being done is it’s being rolled up into a whole corrections reform issue,” said Rafter. “And while there are similarities, the GBCI is a maximum security prison. It is unique in its need to be replaced for many different reasons.”
Rafter said Evers also looked forward to robust public input on this issue.
“I don’t think the governor is saying no to closing the GBCI,” said Rafter. “I think he’s saying it’s part of a larger discussion and he’s interested in more debate.”
Trustee Jim Genrich said he agreed with continuing to push to try to improve conditions at the GBCI.
“It’s still an outdated situation there,” said Genrich. “And it’s never going to get better the way it is.”
Trustee Matthew Harris said the board should take a closer look at the governor’s statements and ask his staff for more information about what will further help this process.
Trustee Christopher Sampson agreed with the board’s discussion of continuing to pursue this issue.
“It was a really great achievement to get as far as we did and get it inserted in the budget,” said Sampson. “I think we’re close enough that we have to keep going.”
Trustee Lynn Green asked if the governor had toured the GBCI, and the board didn’t think he had.
“We should pursue that and actually issue him an invitation to his own prison,” said Green. “I just think he should see it in person and then maybe he’ll have a different budget attitude.”
Green said it’s difficult to fully imagine what the GBCI looks like until you’ve actually seen the circumstances.
“It’s a way different setup than the newer maximum security prisons,” said Green. “And I think actually observing that situation may bring a different perspective about what needs to be done there.”
Rafter agreed and said just because the GBCI wasn’t included in the budget this time, doesn’t mean the problem doesn’t still exist.
Rafter then made a motion to invite the governor, his support staff and any other state legislators to a joint tour of the prison. The motion was approved 7-0.
Optimist Park concerns
Lori Flagstad, who lives directly across Optimist Park at 433 Kalb Ave., said she’s noticed an excessive amount of litter and other issues becoming more frequent at the park.
“Throughout the years, the Optimist Club and the Miracle League have done a fabulous job in renovating the park,” said Flagstad. “But it is getting to the point where the park in itself is beginning to be a nuisance.”
Flagstad said she has tried her best to help clean up the park over the years, but it’s becoming too big of a problem.
“There’s litter all over the place,” she said. “And it does not stay in the park. It travels.”
Flagstad said she has to pick up garbage out of her yard every day from people who were in the park.
“I’m just looking for safety and cleanliness,” she said. “Little kids should not have to be subject to this either.”
Flagstad said people being there after park hours have become more of an issue as well.
Jessica Hope, who lives at 1711 Libal St., said she’s noticed excessive speeding in the Optimist Park area and cars passing other cars on the road even though the speed limit is 30 mph.
“Cars just fly down our road,” said Hope. “My kids love going to Optimist Park every day, and when we cross the street to go to the park, people just don’t stop.”
Hope suggested adding a crosswalk by the park to make it more safe for people walking, as well as possibly slowing cars down on the street near the park.
Rafter thanked both for their pride in the community and told them to contact Brad Lange, village administrator, to discuss things further.