Committee Recommends Engineer to Design New Parks Building

Mill Road construction starting in March; public meeting on land-use plan this Saturday, Feb. 10

The Village of Sister Bay’s Parks, Property and Streets Committee agreed by consensus to select engineering and architectural firm McMahon at a price of $188,000 to design the new Parks Maintenance Facility.  

McMahon rose to the top among seven companies that bid on the project at prices ranging from $98,920 – $246,600, with variations and add-ons among those accounting for price differentials.

The committee members and Dan Klansky, village director of public works, went through each of the bids before selecting McMahon. They liked the firm’s sample designs, experience with municipal buildings and use of in-house staff rather than subcontractors.

“I like their work and they’re easy to work with,” Klansky said during the committee’s Feb. 5 meeting.

The final decision will be up to the Village Board, which meets next on Tuesday, Feb. 20.

The existing Parks and Maintenance Building on Mill Road is in the old Sister Bay fire station. That building would be demolished and one of the options on the facility plan calls for the post office to relocate to that site.

“There has also been a discussion, should that be a parking lot,” said Julie Schmelzer, village administrator, by phone a day after the Feb. 5 meeting. “One thing for certain is, the existing building will be removed.”

The new parks building would be located on the same seven-acre parcel as the existing storage garage, also known as the cold-storage building, at 2160 Autumn Court – across the road from the village’s wastewater treatment plant and tennis courts, and on the same side as the dog park and former lagoons that were filled back in the 1980s. Those lagoon sites will require soil borings to learn if they can hold a building, should that be needed.

The storage garage of the Parks and Maintenance Department – often referred to as “cold storage” – is located next to the dog park, across the street from the Sports Complex on Autumn Court. This building may or may not be demolished, and is located on the same site where the new building would be constructed. File photo by Myles Dannhausen Jr.

“The committee talked about it [the cold storage building] coming down,” Schmelzer said. “This week, they’re talking about keeping it. If you keep the cold storage up, then the [new] building goes somewhere else out there. There’s a lot of moving pieces.”

The village will handle the site work separately, including parking and landscaping, and decided last month to use Stantec for the civil site work, such as utility locations and site design.

The McMahon contract would only be for the design of the building and the construction drawings. Once that’s completed, the project could be ready to bid. 

The village budgeted $4 million for the total project – which includes demolition of the existing buildings – and expects to borrow for the project this year. Schmelzer said that $4 million was their “worst-case scenario.”

Tasha Rass, village finance director and treasurer, said by phone that the village’s current debt load is $8.9 million. However, the village is paying off three large loans this year: one for the Stony Ridge development, the other two for the purchase of the Pebble Beach property and the former Wiltse property. The last two are being paid off in advance of their maturity dates.

The new debt coming off the books allows for the new debt to go on without creating an additional tax burden for property owners in 2025, Rass said.

Mill Road Construction Starting in March

The construction start is about a month away for Mill Road west of state Highway 42, which passes Waterfront Park and the Sister Bay Yacht Club. 

The schedule from contractor Vinton Construction shows a project start date of March 11, with a completion date of May 17. Single lanes and detours will be used during construction. 

The project entails a complete rebuild of the flood-prone road including: road straightening, repaving, new storm sewer, sidewalks, improved pedestrian crossings, curb and gutter and additional and replacement lighting. 

Mill Road on the west side of state Highway 42 will be reconstructed from March to May of this year. Google maps.

No borrowing is related to this project, said Tasha Rass, village finance director and treasurer. Current project estimates, with costs still pending from Wisconsin Public Service, are at $1.03 million. The project will be completely financed by the village’s premier resort area tax, Rass said, which has brought in about $1.5 million since first established in 2018, ranging from $155,528 that year, to approximately $350,000 in 2023.

The premier resort area tax is a local retail sales tax – Sister Bay’s is 0.5% – which was authorized by the Wisconsin Legislature and is administered by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue. Under law, the municipality may only use the revenue to pay for infrastructure expenses.

Only eight communities in Wisconsin have been authorized to collect this tax, two of those – Sister Bay and Ephraim – in Door County.

Land Use Planning Session This Saturday

The Village of Sister Bay is offering a public input session on its new comprehensive land-use plan. The interactive workshop will be held Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Village Hall, 10693 N. Bay Shore Drive. In addition to the in-person session, interested participants can also comment on the future of the village virtually – an option not previously offered on the land use plan.

The plan covers land use, housing, economic development, transportation and other elements. The village’s last plan was completed in October 2023.   

The public input session begins at 9 am and ends at noon. People can drop in at any time during that period to offer comments, or participate online from Feb. 10 – 17 by visiting  

The Bay-Lake Regional Planning Commission is the contractor leading the plan update. To follow the entire planning process, go to, and click on ‘projects’.