DE PERE CITY COUNCIL
Cameras to be utilized in Voyageur Park
The City of De Pere will give some new technology a try in Voyageur Park that the police department says will help solve crime and reduce nuisances.
On Tuesday, June 21, City Council approved the one-year trial period of four cameras that can read and identify license plates automatically.
In addition, the council approved four Wi-Fi-enabled cameras for the park.
Police Chief Jeremy Muraski said the cameras, which will cost a total of $10,800, will help his department in documenting and prosecuting violations and disturbances in and around Voyageur Park – which has been an issue over the past few years.
The $10,800 will come from a state safe policing grant.
“The current ALPR (automated license plate reader) camera has shown great promise, but it cannot cover all of the entrances and exits,” Muraski said in a memo to the council.
The city surveillance trailer has the capability to capture license plates, but can only cover one exit of the park, and has missed several vehicles linked to incidents that used a different exit.
“Further, many of the vehicles are waiting until after they exit the park and engaging in playing loud music, squealing tires and other disturbing behavior,” Muraski said in the memo.
The contract runs through the end of next summer.
Muraski said that if the cameras are helpful, there will be discussion in regards to renewing the contract.
Code changes ban loitering in city-owned parking lots
It’s now against De Pere municipal code to loiter in city-owned parking lots.
First time offenders could face a fine of $200, with $250 for second offenses and $400 for subsequent offenses, not including court costs.
Muraski said those who are not legitimately in the act of utilizing the park or walking to or from a vehicle or bicycle may be considered trespassing.
Standing around, idling in vehicles, skateboarding, inline skating and hanging out in municipal parking facilities are against the De Pere Ordinance #22-06.
The Common Council approved the ordinance, which it modeled after one in Madison, at its Tuesday meeting.
Alderperson Dean Raasch said he was concerned about unintended consequences and how difficult it would be to make changes to it if need be.
“This is not something I’m expecting to get a lot of use out of,” Muraski said. “I’m not expecting us to be issuing citations for this on a weekly or monthly basis. It’s a very nice tool in our toolbox, but before I would assess a fine of that magnitude against somebody for something like this … I think we would exercise discretion like we always do and issue a warning first or even just do an educational stop. If we see something that we think could potentially be a violation, we stop, we have a word with the person and say, ‘Hey, just so you know, this is an ordinance that is on the books, and this is what we’re trying to prevent.’”
He said he doesn’t envision officers apprehending people as they load their bikes or rollerblades into their cars three minutes after exiting the trail.
The changes come after the city received complaints from neighbors and Voyageur Park users for the past two years that some parking lot malingerers are negatively impacting quality of life around the park.
The board voted to reject both bids the city received for the reconstruction of four eastside alleys and the building of a cul-de-sac at the end of Charles Street created by the De Pere Cultural Foundation site.
At around $309,000 and $316,000, both bids exceeded the amount budgeted by more than $100,000.
Staff said the city will rebid the project next year in conjunction with other work in hopes of finding a lower price.
ALLOUEZ VILLAGE BOARD
Additional ARPA funds approved for Coffee Wizardz
The board unanimously approved the allocation of additional American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to Coffee Wizardz, a coffee shop/coffee roaster that opened in the village earlier this year.
Coffee Wizardz was approved to receive a grant from the village at a board meeting in November 2021, in which the village would provide funding to reimburse 50% of the cost of a new wall sign, a free-standing sign and a mural.
The estimated project cost was $5,565.00.
The actual costs, however, came in higher due to inflation and the availability of contractors – costing a final total of $9,650.
The initial grant, not to exceed $2,782.50, was based on estimated costs for the project, the additional funding stays true to the 50% reimbursement promise, which will now not exceed $4,825.00.
Fiber internet update
Public Works Director Sean Gehin provided the board with an update regarding the upcoming installations of TDS fiber-optic lines within the Village of Allouez.
He said that so far, three permits have been received, one of which has already been approved.
The first permit will run cable along East River Drive from Lebrun Street to Hoffman Avenue and along McCastlen Street.
The second permit, which has been reviewed and recommended for approval, would encompass an area east of Webster Avenue, between Lebrun Street and Longview Avenue and along Allouez Avenue from Libal Street to East River Drive.
The third permit, which has also been reviewed and recommended for approval, would bring fiber-optic lines east of Webster Avenue, between Longview Avenue and Briar Lane, extending beyond Libal Street on Sunrise Avenue and E. Briar Lane.
More information will be released as work progresses.
SUAMICO VILLAGE BOARD
Pine Lane speed limit discussed
Speed limits were once again on the agenda at the Monday, June 20 Village Board meeting – as board members discussed lowering the speed limit on Pine Lane from 45 miles per hour to 35 miles per hour.
The topic was in front of the Village Board, with a recommendation of approval from the Health and Safety committee.
Deputy Marc Pisani, one of Suamico’s three directed enforcement officers, said the stretch of road has 34 driveways, seven T intersections and three four-way intersections.
“It is a 22-foot (wide) paved asphalt two-lane roadway with gravel shoulders, no sidewalks, no curbs, steep ditches, steep with five elevation changes,” he said.
The village has received complaints from residents in regards to the speed limit, and the increased traffic from people commuting down from Oconto County, noting it has become difficult to back out of their driveways.
Ultimately, the board voted to table the motion, with a recommendation to residents to start a petition for when this comes back to the board.
Idlewild Park signage
Recreation Director Nicholas Lemke addressed the board on the need for new signs at the entrances of Idlewild Park, located at 3011 Idlewild Rd.
Lemke said the current signs are faded, the font makes them hard to read and they don’t match the style of other parks in the village.
Lemke received a quote for two new signs at a total of just more than $17,000.
Trustee Michelle Eckert questioned why the signs have the park rules on what will be the main entrance signs, saying it made the signs sound “preachy.”
The board approved the purchase of new signs, however, voted to have the park rules placed on separate signs.
HOWARD-SUAMICO SCHOOL BOARD
Board approves final 2021-22 budget
The School Board approved the final 2021-22 budget of $182,434,627 at its Monday, June 20 meeting, following a brief presentation by Michael Juech, assistant superintendent of operations.
“Some big things going on, and this is obviously something that’s reflected in the budget and some expenditures that we’re starting to see now as the dirt is turned and as walls are broken… the community gave us permission to move forward with $98 million worth of work and to see that come to light and to be able to utilize those dollars to maximize those educational opportunities for students,” he said.
Juech said as the district wraps up 2021-22 and looks toward the 2022-23 budget, a further look is critical in making those decisions going forward.
“When we start talking about the 2023-25 biennial budget, there is going to be that fiscal cliff that we’ve discussed – these (ESSER – Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund) dollars right there to go away, they are one-time funds,” he said. “I feel we’ve truly taken an approach where we recognize that these are one time dollars and we started from the get-go down that path.”
Juech said it will be a continual challenge.
“The concern I had is when we started down that path of doing what I think was the true intent of those dollars,” he said. “When the legislative decisions were made to use that money instead of funding schools differently, we found ourselves having to pivot from ‘let’s use these as truly one time dollars,’ to ‘these are now helping to sustain our budget.’”
“So that’s something that needs to continue to be highlighted. too, because it is also what we have, that with those referendum dollars is also our duty to make sure that we are monitoring those expenditures as part of ultimately a much larger budget.”
The budget conversation lent itself into a discussion about referendum project updates.
“Some pretty significant work is taking place,” Juech said. “Even if you’re not really familiar with (the buildings) before, it’s still a lot of fun to see all the work that’s taking place and how quickly some of the stuff (is getting done). That’s probably been some of the biggest comments that I’ve received is, ‘wow, they’re really getting to work on this,’ or ‘that’s really coming together.’ So that’s neat to see.”
Board members will have the opportunity to tour some of the construction projects on June 27 and July 1.
Board President Gary Sievert opened Monday’s meeting recognizing a handful of students for their accomplishments.
Sievert presented the Bay Port High School and Bay View Middle School robotics teams, as well as the Bay Port DECA club, with official proclamations highlighting their successful years.
DE PERE SCHOOL BOARD
Active-shooter preparedness presentation
School principals gave School Board members a nearly 45-minute primer at its Monday, June 20 meeting, on the kind of active-shooter preparedness training students in all district schools undergo, and the district’s efforts to keep them safe.
Highlights included locked double doors, smart passes, shatterproof windows, visitor check-in, door checks, active-shooter and threat drills, brainstorming potential situations, video safety presentations, rally-point drills, threat-reaction training and practice barricading.
Luke Herlache, principal of Dickinson Elementary School, said staff do regular training, take summer classes and do online learning about safety.
Each school has a “go-bag,” which is an emergency kit containing orange safety vests, class rosters, crisis-response manuals, bullhorns, Chromebooks and chargers and other necessities, ready to go in the event of an active-shooter situation.
“Age appropriateness is key,” Herlache said.
With the littlest kids, he said teachers use terms such as unsafe situations rather than active shooters.
“We really try to relate the unsafe scenario to other safety drills that the kids are already familiar with – fire drills, tornado drills,” Herlache said. “This is just another drill to keep us, our building and each other safe. That helps relieve any anxiety.”
He said playground supervisors do monthly whistle drills at recess, rehearsing with students what they should do in the event of a threatening person outside or even inclement weather in which they needed to get inside quickly.
“The kids know that with a certain whistle sequence, they are to gather to the nearest supervisor, and we practice getting the kids in the building in an efficient manner,” Herlache said. “So if any situation should arise they have that practice getting organized, listening and getting to a safe spot.”
De Pere Police Chief Jeremy Muraski briefed the board on some of the police department’s active-threat protocols.
Muraski said the No. 1 priority is to stop the threat.
“What you have probably heard in past school shootings, and in other business-related shooting environments, is that there used to be a pattern where police would try to set up a perimeter,” he said. “They would try to control the exterior of a situation, they would try to wait for specialty resources to arrive. That is not our model in Brown County; that is not our model in the City of De Pere.”
Muraski said the first few officers on scene form what they call a contact team whose purpose is to nullify the threat.
“They are not there to render aid; they’re not there to provide any kind of emergency medical services or assistance at all,” he said. “They may in some cases even have to push their way past students, because they’re focused on getting to where that gunfire is coming from and handling that threat.”
Muraski said only after the threat is stopped will officers render aid to the injured.
In other business
The board voted to approve spending $229,000 on mortar and brick repairs to three-quarters of Foxview Intermediate School to stop water damage.
The lowest bid for work on the whole building was $347,500, which was higher than the $220,000 budgeted, so the board decided to defer the last part of the repair project to the next fiscal year.
DE PERE PARK BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS
Legion Park pool pushed to at least 2026
Construction on an aquatic facility at Legion Park likely won’t begin until at least 2026 – with engineering and technical design in 2025, and gates opening in 2027.
The Board of Park Commissioners crafted a rough plan when it met June 16, which outlines keeping the current pool at Legion Park running until then, unless it encounters a catastrophic event – which was defined as a repair costing $250,000 or above.
Marty Kosobucki, director of parks, recreation, and forestry, said any repairs that cost more than $50,000 will trigger a review of the timeline.
“Do I think we’re on borrowed time with Legion pool? Yeah, I do,” Kosobucki said. “I mean, I’ve told that to everybody that asks me, but I cannot sit here and tell you that it won’t last another five years. It could.”
He said the problem is that it’s impossible to get in and inspect all of the piping in the pool, even with cameras, to fully understand its issues.
“What we found was that the pipes were constructed ‘creatively’ and there’s no way for any device to actually navigate through that whole system and inspect the pipes, even with a camera,” Kosobucki said.
He said two cracked pipes were discovered while filling the pool, delaying Legion Park’s opening by a week – with repairs costing between $10,000 and $15,000.
Kosobucki said the leaks were so large that the pool lost water as fast as it was filled.
He said the pool epoxy and paint for covering the access point to the pipes didn’t arrive in time for the scheduled opening, and workers refilled the pool without the cosmetic touch-ups.
“It looks a little… modern,” Kosobucki said of the rough access point.
Meanwhile, kids and families flocked to the year-old VFW aquatic facility during the hot streak of the past two weeks, which led to long lines.
Mom and pool advocate Katie Carviou said VFW aquatic center admission lines stretched out the building and down the sidewalk.
Estimates are that the $6.9 million VFW aquatic facility could be paid off by 2027.
The pool at Legion is projected to total about $7.2 million and could be paid off by 2037.
Community member Vicki Kelly-Seeman said she is impatient for an eastside pool to be built.
She said no one in De Pere expected it to take this long.
“My granddaughter was in 4K when this began,” Kelly-Seeman said. “She’ll have graduated from high school by the time it’s in.”
She said she and others felt a lack of communication between the city and citizens on this matter.
“People want a plan,” Kosobucki told the board.
He and the board reiterated that plans, including their rough outline, are subject to change pending economic climate, condition of the pool and other factors.
“I mean, I think this is a good plan to go forward with right now, fully understanding that it’s not written in stone, it can be changed,” Board Chair Randy Soquet said. “It sets a plan. We have a framework for now.”
BROWN COUNTY BOARD
Storm causes action to be pushed
Due to the storms on June 15, the Brown County Board held an abbreviated meeting, lasting just about a half hour.
No items were pulled for discussion, approving all standing committee reports without objection, with exception of three items – the jurisdictional authority ordinance, an ordinance to repeal and replace chapter 15 of the Brown County Code of Ordinances (redistricting procedure) and a communication from District 3 Supervisor Andy Nicholson regarding a clarification of REDI Transport’s contracts.
NEW Water facility plan presentation
Ahead of the meeting and the storm, Thomas Sigmund, executive director of NEW Water, the brand of the Green Bay Metropolitan Sewerage District, addressed members of the board and the public in attendance on its long-term facility plan.
“NEW Water’s Liquids Facility Plan is a proactive 20-year look-ahead at needed improvements to its treatment facilities so we can continue to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective service that supports the growing area,” Sigmund said.
The presentation, similar to those given at all surrounding municipalities over the last few months, highlights facility improvements and interceptor upgrades estimated to cost between $245 million to $370 million, which Sigmund said will be phased-in over the next 20 years.
He said aging infrastructure and growing demand are issues that will continue to be factors going forward, and in order to develop solutions it is important to understand the issues.
Sigmund said many of the treatment processes have been in service for more than 45 years.
“Rate adjustments are needed to continue to invest in these critical facilities,” he said.
Sigmund said capacity is an issue as the communities NEW Water serves grow by 0.75% a year, and some of the facilities are operating above the current rated capacity.
“NEW Water is not the reason that business comes to this area, but we want to make sure that we are not the reason that they can’t come,” he said. “NEW Water will work to control costs and prioritize projects to manage rate impacts over the coming years.”
GREEN BAY SCHOOL BOARD
Construction projects awarded
The Green Bay School Board held a brief special meeting June 15, in which it voted unanimously to award two contracts for construction work.
The first contract, for parking lot replacement at Edison Middle School, was awarded to Northeast Asphalt.
The second, slated for roof replacement at Red Smith, was awarded to Van De Hey Refined Roofing, LLC.
Preliminary budget discussion
Following the special meeting, the meeting shifted to discussion as the board’s monthly work session centered around the preliminary budget for the 2022-23 school year.
“Things will change from now until October, but this is a snapshot,” Angela Roble, the district’s chief financial officer, said.
Roble said the 2022-23 budget – projected to be $297 million in general fund expenditures – is predicted to be balanced, but that’s because the district plans to use ESSER (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief) funds to cover the more than $18 million deficit the district is expecting.
She said a prediction of the 2023-24 budget reveals an even larger deficit, again with plans to fill it with $32.6 million in ESSER funds.
Sarah Noah, the district’s executive director of finance, said the district knew these deficits were coming and purposefully saved the ESSER funds to fill them, however those funds won’t be available to cover the projected $36 million deficit for the 2024-25 school year.
“We have strategically saved our ESSER funding as a district because we knew these deficits were coming, and we knew we needed to cover them for the next two years,” she said. “In 2024-25, the funding will be exhausted and therefore we are projecting a deficit of $36 million.”
Noah said the district’s goal is to take advantage of these years when the ESSER funding is able to cover the deficit to find ways to lower it once those funds run out.
“The goal is to significantly reduce that deficit in the next two years,” she said, “while we have the ESSER funding to cover the deficits in those current years.”
Board President Laura McCoy said the district definitely has its work cut out for it.
“These numbers are kind of scary, and we have a lot of interesting work ahead of us as our district works through this.
Online school name discussion
Also up for discussion during the work session were potential names for the district’s online school, following the conclusion of its first year in operation.
A naming committee, made up of board member James Lyerly, district staff, fifth-grade students, a parent and a community member, proposed three names for the new school.
The committee narrowed down the options to Katherine Johnson Academy of Enriched Virtual Learning, Mosaic Academy of Enriched Virtual Learning and Learning Beyond Boundaries Academy.
The board will have the opportunity to approve one of the proposed names at its June 27 meeting.
Press Times Editor Heather Graves, Staff Interns Kat Halfman and Jim Paul, Intern Janelle Fisher and Correspondent Lee Reinsch contributed to these briefs.