County agrees to purchase former Pulliam property
By Heather Graves
BROWN COUNTY – A long-term plan to expand port operations, along with the possibility of relocating the coal piles from downtown Green Bay, took a leap forward following a unanimous vote by the county board to purchase the former Pulliam Power Plant property at its meeting Wednesday, Feb. 17.
The county will purchase the nearly 44-acre Pulliam property, located at the northern mouth of the Fox River, from Wisconsin Public Service Corp. for $2.7 million with funds from the Port and Resource Recovery Acquisition and Siting Fund and $500,000 from the Idle Sites Grant the county received earlier this year from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation.
The vote also included the approval of a letter of intent to sell a portion of the property to GLC Minerals for $876,000.
GLC has committed to $7.5 million of port development and plans to create 10 full-time jobs in the next five years.
District 25 Supervisor Thomas Lund had some concerns on why the Pulliam purchase plan wasn’t brought to the county board in closed session before being brought forward for action.
Corporation Counsel David Hemery clarified this was a situation like no other for the Pulliam property.
“Typically, you are correct, I would bring this into closed session, but here it really is – the deal is what it is,” Hemery said. “In this case, it’s not like other land purchases where I may bring it into closed session because we are going to talk about some negotiating strategy or leverage or what the price should be, stuff like that. The terms and conditions you see before you in your packet are pretty much what they are. Parties are willing to agree to those terms. The other parties, if the terms are different, in all likelihood there would be no deal.”
The county has until the end of the year to complete the sale.
“This is a huge, huge win for that part of the county,” said Patrick Buckley, board chair. “Kudos to them (county staff) for getting this done. And hopefully with all their work, they’ll be getting those coal piles moved from downtown.”
Racial equity resolution, committee
Supervisors stopped short of declaring racism a public health crisis as many counties and municipalities have done throughout the state and country, but did adopt a resolution to advance racial equity and support throughout the county.
The resolution has been in the works for months.
It underwent more editing at the county’s executive committee meeting just prior to Wednesday’s full county board meeting.
There, committee members substituted the “racism is a public health crisis” language with “advancing racial equity and support throughout the county.”
However, some supervisors were still not supportive.
“Racism does exist,” said District 23 Supervisor Ray Suennen. “The belief here is that it is universal. I am not a believer that it is totally universal. That would mean it is all over in every business. Racism is only one of the things that is a problem in our society. I have a real problem with saying that this is a bigger issue than the accumulation of all other issues. Like many things, you jump on the bandwagon and you go with it. I’ve heard from individuals that we’ve heard from people over and over again on the issue. Yes, the same people are often coming out and pushing it. It is the same people in many cases.”
Others said the resolution is long overdue.
“This is the lingering elements of policies of the past – in both public and private institutions – that over time have put the burden on folks of color – African Americans, Asian Americans, American Indian,” said District 3 Supervisor Amanda Chu. “This is an entire, big group of people that have been unduly burdened by centuries of racist policies and practices. So this is just our way that we can get our arms around it and start to address it here in the county.”
The resolution passed 17-9 with Supervisors Suennen, Patrick Evans, John Vander Leest, Pat Buckley, Norbert Dantinne, Jim Murphy, Dave Kaster, Randy Shultz and Tom Peters opposed.
While the resolution received opposition, a resolution creating a racial equity ad hoc committee, tasked with exploring strategies and recommendations addressing racial equity and support concerns in Brown County, received nearly unanimous support, with just Murphy opposed.
The committee will be made of three county board supervisors and six community members, each serving two years.
Members will be appointed by the executive committee chair.