Letter to the Editor: Village Neglects a Building and Now Wants to Demolish It

Mr. Dannhausen’s article about the Sister Bay village hall [“Days Numbered for Village Hall?,” Peninsula Pulse, Aug. 19-26 issue] caused quite a stir. From the many comments on social media, nobody – not residents, not longtime visitors, nobody – favored razing the village hall. 

Reviewing the minutes of the plan commission’s last meeting, many questions remain regarding the fate of this iconic stone structure that anchors the center of the village: “Bhirdo pointed out that over the 48 years, money has been budgeted for several improvements to the village hall, but for one reason or another, none of those projects have actually come to fruition,” according to the meeting minutes. 

Why were monies budgeted for the maintenance and improvement but never spent? Who is responsible for that? The village has spent millions achieving a nearly unobstructed view of the bay, but not one cent on basement flooding, air conditioning, ADA-compliant access or other improvements? If the building is underutilized, is anyone responsible for attracting and retaining its use?

Also according to the minutes, village administrator Julie Schmelzer explained that the building “does not have any historical value; it’s not on any historic site lists.” 

Oh? The Sister Bay town hall and post office are included in the Wisconsin historic inventory record of architecture. As someone else said, and I agree, these are the buildings that past generations believed were worth saving and ones the next generation will be glad we did save here in Door County.

Also, there is a plaque inside the building listing the founding members of the American Legion Post. I wonder how the longtimers would feel about this.

What is the intent for the site? A recreational boating museum! A visitor center! Additional restrooms! And beach changing stations!

I didn’t see any numbers suggesting the actual costs of fixing and maintaining the village hall or the costs of ignoring those needs. What are the costs of needed changes, demolition or building a new edifice? 

Make decisions not based on aspirations, but rather, on the facts on the ground. Why not just table the razing of the building, answer some basic questions and take the time to ask the residents what they want? 

Carl “Buzz” J. Madsen

Sister Bay, Wisconsin