Letter to the Editor: A Sad Day for Local Government

I am writing to share the thoughts I sent to the following City of Sturgeon Bay officials:  Dear Mayor Birmingham, Fire Chief Dietman, Police Chief Porter, City Attorney Nesbitt, Community Development Director Olejniczak, City Engineer Shefchik, City Administrator VanLieshout, and Alderpersons Ms. Catarozoli, Mr. Vandertie, Mr. Ward, Mr. Wiesner, Ms. Allmann, Mr. Fett, and Ms. Hauser.

I am writing today to say, “Shame on you,” to those of you listed above who have been in a position to save Sturgeon Bay’s historic granary and have refused to do so.

I am generally a mild-mannered person, a devoted friend and grandmother, the one sitting in the council meeting who does not speak up. I have written you emails that praised the work you do for our city and gently asked you to listen. But today I am angry. I am a working, home-owning, tax-paying, volunteering, positive member of the community and I am angry at those of you who have refused to listen to logical, reasonable, arguments from your constituents, including mine. I am angry because only three of you listed above have had the courtesy or respect to respond to my emails. Those three are Ms. Allmann, Ms. Catarozoli, and Ms. Hauser. Only those three. Every other state or local lawmaker whom I have ever contacted has not managed to reply to emails. (I exempt from my wrath those of you who are not elected members of the Common Council, only to the extent that you could not vote on the fate of the granary. If you worked for the granary’s demise, I call shame on you.)

I am angry because the fate of the granary is not and has never been an insurmountable problem. When people disagree in a community, good leaders work to find a way to solve the problem. I accept that not everyone in the city loves the granary the way so many of us do. Time and again alderwomen Allmann, Catarozoli and Hauser, as well as other citizens, have offered reasonable solutions to satisfy everyone – only to be shut down or shut out of the conversation.

I am particularly angry to hear that Mayor Birmingham has said that he knows of no one who wishes to save the granary. Absurd. It is a sad day for local government when elected officials refuse to listen to or even acknowledge constituents’ voices.

Are my laments for this iconic landmark pointless? Too late to make even one of you regret what you are doing? Perhaps.

I felt the need to ask one last time for a good reason to raze the granary. Can you give me one? Just one that you can share?

It has been shown that the granary is salvageable and is no imminent danger to anyone.

I speak for thousands in this city. We are sad, we are angry, and we vote.


Lynn Gilchrist

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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