A group that formed after the Door County Board of Supervisors voted for a two-year drawdown of the Forestville Millpond has filed recall petitions against two county supervisors.
The Friends of the Forestville Dam organization has submitted petitions for the recall of District 2 Supervisor John Neinas, whose district includes the millpond; and District 3 Supervisor Roy Englebert, who represents the neighboring district.
“I think it was definitely necessary because the two representatives in the two districts that are being recalled really did not take into account the consensus of the population down here when the Forestville Millpond was being considered to be drawn down,” said Lora Jorgensen, a member of both the Friends group and the Village of Forestville board. “A lot of people contacted them and were looking for their support for this area to be able to find a better solution than destroying the habitat for two years.”
She said area residents are frustrated, feeling they had no voice in the decision to empty the millpond for two years in order to contend with the accumulation of muck on the bottom and rid the pond of invasive plant species. She also feels the county board members were not properly educated about the millpond and thinks many had never seen it.
“They voted on the economics of it solely, in my opinion, rather than taking into consideration the other options,” Jorgensen said. “There are a lot of repercussions for businesses and residents and people who come from all over to use the millpond for recreation.”
Englebert disagrees with her assessment.
“This whole process was done very scientifically and very carefully,” he said. “If you want to save that body of water, that was the recommendation from the people that were involved in this process and that’s why it was voted to do it. I listened to the DNR. I listened to Soil and Water. Unfortunately, some people say I listened to the wrong experts. It’s disappointing. Normally if your friends don’t like what you’re doing, they wait until the official election and then say, ‘Roy, we didn’t like what you were doing,’ and then they vote you out. They don’t usually do a recall. I consider it a horrific event, especially in a small community.”
Jorgensen said people in District 2 felt particularly stung by Neinas abstaining from the drawdown vote.
“He was the one chance of somebody talking old-school sense to the board,” she said. “By him abstaining from voting, [it] sent a huge message to people that he wasn’t willing to represent people.”
“That is complete ignorance talking there because I own property on the dam, and abstaining was advice of the corporation counsel,” Neinas said. “That kind of shoots that right out of the water, don’t it?”
Neinas also issued this official statement about the recall: “I fully understand the solution arrived at for fixing the Mill Pond was very unpopular with those residing on the Mill Pond.
“It is truly sad that those affected with property on the dam did not come to a collective decision to resolve this situation that is both financially effective and in accordance with proven scientific studies.
“This has been the approved method, to drain the pond and refill it, passed by a majority of the County Board.
“If anyone checks the records, they will see I did not vote to drain the pond. I abstained from voting on the recommendation of the Corporation Counsel because I own property on the Mill Pond. Sixteen people did vote to drain and refill, and we are recalling two?
“I previously stated I was not running for re-election in Spring.
“This recall will only result in towns having the cost of extra elections, and the results of the pond drainage vote will not have changed. There’s no logic to this at all.”
Neinas’ wife, JoAnn, town clerk of Brussels for 40 years, added to the Peninsula Pulse, “This is not going to happen until at least September, and the term is up in April. As the town clerk, it really ticks me off that we have to pay for the elections.”
Neinas added that with his announcement this past spring that he would not seek re-election in April 2020, “Why should I get my underwear in a ball? I just wanted to just slide into the sunset. I’ve been doing this since 1998. Either way, I’m going to go back to a normal life.”
According to state statute, the recalled officials have 10 days after the recall petition was filed to file a written challenge. County Clerk Jill Lau has 31 days from the recall filing to verify the validity of petition signers. If the petitions are certified, the election is then called for the Tuesday that falls in the sixth week after certification.