While the divide between the Village of Egg Harbor and Town of Egg Harbor may go unnoticed much of the time by those outside their boundaries, the split has garnered attention again as the village grapples with its marina issues.
Residents voted down a $6.6 million proposal for a new marina May 26. But the village has just 240 eligible voters. The reason? The town and village are two separately governed municipalities, as separate as Fish Creek and Ephraim. What now seems extraordinarily ironic is the story, and the reason, behind the divorce.
In the early 1960s, when what is now the Village of Egg Harbor was still part of the town, tensions grew between the “village” people and the town government. Bill Bertschinger, owner of Egg Harbor’s Alpine Resort and Golf Course, said villagers had an increasingly hard time getting improvements made for the downtown business area. Those frustrations culminated in a 1964 dispute over a streetlight proposed for the intersection of Highway 42 and County G (which didn’t come to fruition) and Bertschinger was instrumental in the incorporation of the village.
“My uncle had tried to incorporate the village years prior,” Bertschinger recalled. “I had nothing to lose, so I led the way.”
Forty-five years later, peace has been restored. But in light of the village’s recent frustrations in its efforts to reconstruct its marina, some think one Egg Harbor would be better than two. The village residents of 1964 formed their own government in part because they sought a smaller community, one in which change would come more easily. In 2009, however, a marina referendum that failed by only six votes might have succeeded in a larger, unified Egg Harbor.