Door County News: Liberty Grove News and Notes

The Town of Liberty Grove has expanded Sanitary District #1 to encompass the entire township in an effort to ward off the groundwater contamination woes that have afflicted other Door County communities.

Town Board Supervisor Nancy Goss said the move should speed up inspections of town sewer and septic systems.

“Expanding the sanitary district gives us a little more clout to more rapidly expand sewer system inspections,” Goss said. “The county had informed us that it could take them up to 10 years to get to all the systems in Liberty Grove, and that timeline was unacceptable to us.”

Without expanding the district, Liberty Grove would not have jurisdiction to perform inspections outside of the existing sanitary district boundaries. Now it has the power to use town staff to perform inspections or contract with an independent agency to do so.

“Now we can use our manpower and machinery to assist the county and speed up the process,” Goss said.

An earlier inspection of 102 privately owned waste treatment systems in Ellison Bay found only 26 to be acceptable. There are over 2,000 such systems in Liberty Grove.

Expansion of the sanitary district does not mean the town will lay pipes in the ground to run sewer to every home. Goss and Town Clerk/Administrator Walter Kalms said the measure has little impact on the average Liberty Grove homeowner other than to help ensure the safety of groundwater.

“The initial fear and perception is we’ll have sewer and water all over the place,” Kalms acknowledged. “But it doesn’t pay for us to do that. The cost would be extremely prohibitive.”

But with a sanitary district in place, critics of the expansion fear expanded development, especially in Ellison Bay, is sure to follow.

The committee that has overseen the Sanitary District in the past has expressed to the board that they do not want to be responsible for the new, expanded district, but would be willing to serve as advisors. Supervision of the district must now fall to the board.

Other Updates

• The town is seeking candidates for next April’s election. Three town supervisor positions will be up for grabs, two supervisors and the chairman’s seat. Goss said she intends to run for a second term. John Jensen is the other supervisor up for re-election, and Bill Casey is the chair.

Kalms said the town has not received much interest from candidates as of the end of September.

• Kalms said the town expects to break ground on town hall expansion and remodeling in March. The work will expand the town shop, add office space, and redesign the public meeting area. The current building was constructed in 1984 on the site of the former Wildwood School.

“We’re working to finalize design with Dimension IV right now,” Kalms said.

The estimated cost of the project is $1 – $1.4 million.

• The town and the United States Postal Service have yet to come to a resolution on the Ellison Bay Post Office, an issue that has been on the town’s agenda for several years. The current post office building is deteriorating and needs repairs, but previous proposals to find a new location have been unsuccessful. The town is now negotiating with the USPS about modifications to the existing building at 12025 Garrett Bay Rd., including the elimination of a garage to expand space. The town is currently awaiting a response from the USPS.

• Work is being planned to improve traffic safety on the increasingly busy stretch of Highway 42 between Hill Road and Waters End Road. The commercial corridor is often congested, with vehicles parking on the shoulder to frequent restaurants, and traffic related to condominiums and Yachtworks Marina clogging the artery in the summer.

Liberty Grove will be footing the bill for a sidewalk on the stretch, though Town Chairman Bill Casey has expressed displeasure with the town paying for improvements to a state highway. Goss said it’s a cost that should have been considered when the town did its Smart Growth plan.

“The town has culpability for allowing the zoning for commercial development there,” she said. “With the Liberty Park Lodge condo development it’s only going to get more congested.”