Door County now has a master plan for biking and hiking. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously at its regular monthly meeting on Jan. 28 to approve the 89-page master plan and an equally thick document of appendices that provides insight into the planning.
Sarah Gaskell, head of planning, policy and legislation for the Wisconsin Bicycle Federation, said the plan was designed to make the county a safer place for cycling as well as more inviting as a biking destination.
“Inherently, Door County is already a great place to cycle,” she said.
The master plan identifies 58 miles of county highway that should get paved shoulders next time the county does roadwork on those stretches. Gaskell pointed out that paved shoulders would benefit the larger Door County population, not just cyclists.
The plan also identifies 13 family oriented recreational biking loops that include every community in the county, and allows for 368 miles of signed bike routes.
Gaskell also suggested to the board that the ad hoc committee that worked on the plan be made into a standing committee.
County board supervisor Hugh Mulliken, who also owns Lodgings at Pioneer Lane in Ephraim, said 70 to 80 percent of the guests at his inn come with bicycles. “It’s important to the county,” he said.
The only public comment came from Randy Sahs, president of the Door County Silent Sports Alliance. “As a business owner and a resident I think this is going to be a really great thing to grow our community in the future and also make it safer for cyclists,” he said.
Door County Highway Commissioner John Kolodziej said now that the plan has been adopted, the entire plan will be placed online for all to see on the county’s website, (co.door.wi.gov).
• In other matters, County Administrator Maureen Murphy announced the formation of an 18-member team of county employees that will meet monthly to discuss morale issues after the year of transition in 2013, moving from years of union representation to minimal union representation and all the organizational changes that took place. Murphy said the idea was to form a committee of employees to look at the resultant issues, rather than have a management team meet to issue more top-down directives.
• Sam Perlman of the Door County Economic Development Corp. sought and received approval for a Door County Revolving Loan Fund Application of $155,000 for Brit and Sarah Unkefer, owners of the Wild Tomato in Fish Creek, who plan to open a second location in Sister Bay. “They have purchased what used to be the Sister Bay Café in downtown Sister Bay. They’re looking to renovate that space and open it for this coming season,” Perlman said.
• Approved Immel Construction of Green Bay to serve as construction manager for the Cana Island Restoration Project. Door County Parks & Airport Director Erik Aleson said general contractor bids will be out this spring and they hope to have the project complete by the summer of 2015.
• The board voted unanimously to register its opposition to Senate Bill 349, which was designed to make it easier for the frac sand mining industry to do its business. Greg Coulthurst of the Door County Soil and Water Conservation Department gave a brief presentation about why opposition is needed. “SB 349 is a bill specifically to expand the frac sand mining industry which is in the west central/northwest part of the state,” he said. “It’s an industry that’s currently booming. Four, five years ago there might have been three frac mines out there and now there are (more than) 100 sites out there being mined. The bill is really amending or regulating or taking away a lot of the local regulations and zoning, primarily for the town, but more recently the county association has found some interpretations that may affect county zoning as well.” He advised the board to take action against the bill.
“I think a lot of people here have been following this bill or have been working on it in their towns or villages,” said Supervisor Susan Kohout, who introduced the resolution.
• Kohout also introduced a resolution in support of a non-partisan redistricting system for the state. She said it came to her as chair of the county’s Legislative Committee after Taylor County approved the same resolution. “The bottom line here is that Wisconsin’s current system of redistricting doesn’t work. The last time that the redistricting plan at the state level was accomplished without significant court involvement was in 1931. So there have been decades of the court having to be involved, costing lots and lots of money. Neither party is blameless in this. Whichever party happened to be in power at the time used the law to their own benefit and the not-benefit of the other party.”
Supervisor Ken Fisher took issue with the resolution. “I don’t like this being before us. They’re political comments. This is supposed to be a non-political board.” He asked that it be sent back to committee. “There’s no rush on this. I just don’t feel like we should be looking at this.”
Supervisor and board Vice Chairman David Lienau seconded Fisher’s motion, saying he felt it was a partisan issue.
Supervisor Ben Meyer said a vote should be taken. “I don’t agree with the motion sending it back to the committee,” he said. “I think it’s pretty clear this isn’t a partisan issue. The issue is partisanship. That’s a difference. So, the nuance is, we would like our elected officials in Madison and Washington D.C. to be beholden to the voters, not through a process where gerrymandering and other court issues gets to decide who gets to vote for whom to give legislators protected districts. Instead, this resolution would affect both parties equally and give everyone a fair shot, so I think we can vote this up and down here.”
Supervisor Dale Wiegand agreed that the current system causes problems and costs money. “People are just tired of the way that it’s run right now.”
The board voted 13-7 to send the resolution back to the Legislative Committee, which meets next in March.
The Door County Board meets again at 10 am on Feb. 25.