Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward doesn’t vote unless a tie-breaker is needed, so he conceded during the Sturgeon Bay Common Council’s second meeting of the year that he needs to convince the rest of the council members that the things he wants to commit to in 2021 are worthy of priority attention. That was his preamble to listing the top-five things he told the council he’d like them to focus on:
1. Reopen and recover from the pandemic. Ward said a lot of local businesses have made it through so far, and there’s another round of federal Payroll Protection Plan money now being distributed. At the city level, he said they did what they could to help businesses, and they should make it a priority to do that again this year.
2. Create more housing. “We continue to hear from employers that the number one barrier to employment is housing,” Ward said, “that their workers can’t find housing.”
3. Build and fund sidewalks. Ward said he wants to not only create more sidewalks, but also find the money to build them. “Assessments are not popular,” he said.
4. Build the commercial tax base. He said that will help to alleviate the tax burden on residential properties.
5. Engage in water research. UW-Green Bay will be selecting one or more locations to conduct estuary research.
“I think Sturgeon Bay is an ideal place for a water-research facility,” Ward said.
Green Bay is one of the largest fresh-water estuaries in the world, and Sturgeon Bay would be competing with places such as Marinette and Green Bay. But Ward has put together a small group that will start building relationships and looking at what it would take to compete.
“This is a way to draw university interest not only from the Wisconsin system but a variety [of organizations] that are interested in water research,” he said. “In order to play the game, you have to drive a stake in the ground and say, ‘This is what we want to do.’ So this is what I want to do this year.”