Community gives input on Shipyard Neighborhood Revitalization
By Heather Graves
GREEN BAY – Neighbors gathered at Tank Elementary School Wednesday, Jan. 29, to contribute to the Shipyard Neighborhood Revitalization conversation.
Investing in the businesses and homes already in the area, improving area infrastructure, bringing in businesses to fit the existing neighborhood and improving safety for walkers and bicyclists were some of what the public said it wants in the project.
“Safety for everyone in the area – make the area safer for people on foot, people on bikes, a good walking bridge to connect one side of the river to this side of the river, extra lighting,” said neighborhood resident Lance Spradlin.
“And we’d like to see more open dialogue, like this, instead of just the planners sitting in a room and making decisions.”
The meeting was facilitated by Todd Gordon, a representative from EPR, a consulting firm specializing in redeveloping former industrial sites.
The firm is assisting the City of Green Bay through an Environmental Protection Agency Building Blocks grant, which focuses on helping cities become more economically and environmentally sustainable.
Green Bay is one of a handful of communities in the nation receiving grant assistance.
Original plans for the Shipyard have evolved since the project’s inception more than two years ago, which originally called for a stadium.
It was public feedback that changed the initial plans, and now city leaders are looking to the public again for guidance on revitalization plans for the surrounding neighborhoods.
“You being here is a testament to how strong this neighborhood really is – business owners, residents,” said Kevin Vonck, city development director. “We’re not going to just do a public project, but invest in the neighborhood as well.”
The Shipyard project calls for $10 million with an additional $1 million over three years toward infrastructure improvements in the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We would like to see people who are looking at the area on bikes and walking the area to truly get a feel for it when they are making recommendations – they can feel the culture, they can feel what’s it like to currently exist in the neighborhood, and base their improvement suggestions on that,” said resident Michelle Bachaus.
Residents said they want to see the city invest in existing businesses before bringing in new businesses – and then look at bringing in necessity businesses like grocery stores, health care clinics and family-friendly restaurants.
“There really isn’t any of those type of things in this area,” Spradlin said. “And affordable businesses for everybody, instead of bringing in a bunch of high-end restaurants.”
Vonck said the meeting kicked off Phase II of the revitalization effort.
City leaders plan to use responses from the community to help guide them as they continue to plan long-term improvements for the neighborhood.
“We’ve already seen some action in this neighborhood,” Vonck said.
The curb appeal grant program, which started less than a year ago, has already seen 11 projects.
Neighbor Works is building a new home on Fifth Street, four improvement loans of $100,000 have been awarded, commercial façade grants, a low-interest revolving loan fund and infrastructure improvements are underway, including a lift station to help tackle flooding issues in the area.