End of target practice urged at Suamico wildlife area
By Kevin Boneske
SUAMICO – Complaints about target practice on a state-owned wildlife area in the village were aired Monday, July 20, before the Suamico village board.
Ellen Sarns, who lives on Riverside Drive, said there were “multiple blasts” of weapons fire originating from the West Shores Wildlife Area in May, and a stray bullet leaving the wildlife area almost hit someone nearby in July.
Sarns and others who spoke before the board called for prohibiting target practice in the area.
Village Administrator Alex Kaker said the village has no jurisdiction over state wildlife areas, of which discharging firearms is permissible in Brown County.
Kaker said he spoke with a Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources property manager, who indicated he is looking into bringing a resolution before the Wisconsin Conservation Congress next spring to change the state natural resources code by adding Brown County among the state wildlife areas where firearms use is only allowed for hunting purposes.
“The proposal will be to only allow hunting and not target practice,” he said. “I anticipate that once they draft their resolution, that that may be brought to the village board by the property manager, and at that time the village board will have an opportunity to either draft a resolution in favor or against supporting that code change.”
Trustee Sky Van Rossum said the West Shores Wildlife Area is not suitable for target practice, and he would like to see a resolution drafted to prohibit it brought back to the board.
“When you look at how the Village of Suamico has changed and how firearms usage has changed, really, I mean, target practice in that area?” he said. “For a sensible person, it just does not make sense, because it is not a target range. But a lot of sensible people own guns (and) a lot of people who aren’t sensible own guns.”
Trustee Dan Roddan said he would favor a resolution allowing only hunting in the area.
“We appreciate you guys bringing it forward,” he said to those opposed to target practice there. “We appreciate the emails and conversation, and if you need anything from the village, let us know, and we’ll try to help out as much as possible as you go through this process.”
In other action, board members directed village staff to draft a memorandum of understanding with Arleen Docter related to donating and developing Docter-Vickery Park.
Kaker said the village currently leases the approximately 2.75 acres from Docter at 1440 Riverside Dr., which is adjacent to the Suamico River, for $1 a year.
He said he was recently contacted by Docter’s family interested in donating the land to the village with the stipulation a park be developed in the near future.
Kaker said adding a parking lot, gravel path and a few small amenities is estimated to cost just under $100,000.
He said the land is in Tax Incremental Financing District No. 2, and the project could qualify for funding through the district as long as any expenditures or a contract for them would be made by August 2021.
Kaker said providing additional public access to the Suamico River was favored in the village’s 2020 resident strategic plan survey.
Ken’s Sports rezoning
The board also approved a request from Ken’s Sports to rezone a portion of property east of Veterans Avenue and north of Summerfield Court/Kapala Court from Neighborhood Business to Highway Business.
Zoning Administrator Steve Dunks said the Planning and Zoning Commission voted 6-0 to recommend the rezoning.
He said the anticipated use will likely require the commission to also approve a site plan for outside sales, though those plans have not been finalized, to expand on the recently constructed facility.