Letter to the Editor: Don’t Vilify the Friends Group

In full disclosure, I am Carri Andersson, current plaintiff and former defendant of that ridiculous lawsuit nearly two years ago. This is my first public letter since, and it is entirely my up-close-and-personal opinion on the matter.

It appears the Mayor spent a great deal of time and, I assume, taxpayer expense to tell you what he wants you to believe regarding the Westside Waterfront Redevelopment Area (WWRA). He sent his letter to us all in our utility statements, a highly unusual manner of delivery, though my concern is more with its content.

It is not the first time the Mayor has blamed The Friends group for the disaster that has plagued the WWRA since its formation. It appears heʼd have you believe we are responsible for everything from not having enough money to pay for a street light to, as his letter states, the loss of revenue for a brewpub that backed out before we even came to be.

The Mayor would like you to believe the city did everything right, patting his back for his accomplishments, pointing fingers and showing you a colorful picture of all the things we are uncertain to get. Did anyone else see it as propaganda?

What he didn’t tell you in that letter is that as part of this lawsuit, hundreds of correspondences, documents, etc. have been released and made public record. Some of those are “exhibits” in this case, as they clearly outline the process that has created the problem the city now faces.

In short, it seems it was all very deliberate. They knew it was a Public Trust Doctrine issue. They don’t deny that it is fill. They were warned years ago that this area could see litigation if an OHWM was not done on both parcels and they chose not to do it. They hired attorneys and expended staff time to go all the way to the head of the DNR and get a Letter of Concurrence, which is not standard procedure.

An obvious question comes to my mind: Why spend all those taxpayer dollars to get an informal document agreeing with you, when you could just get the actual line from the DNR? Must not have liked where they thought it would go? I don’t know. Maybe they simply thought it would be enough. Except when they learned it might not be, they dug their heels in.

I don’t believe the city did everything right. I believe the Mayor’s unwillingness to compromise on the pursuit of “his” agenda and push forward has cost us all. I understand how this scenario may be their best bet, but own up to how we got here. I also don’t expect them to get it right all the time. I do, however, expect our leaders to take responsibility for things gone wrong on their watch and under their direction. And I certainly expect them to comply with the State Constitution and not vilify citizens who defend it.

Carri Andersson

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.