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Sister Bay Committee Gets Update on Facilities Study

Amanda Arnold of Ayres Associates presented a progress report Monday to the Sister Bay Parks, Property and Streets Committee about the village facilities study that commenced in June. 

The village hired Ayres to study the properties it owns and create recommendations for future use, consolidation or improvements. Facilities being evaluated in the study include the village administration building, dog park, parks maintenance building, post office, ice rink and other sports complex uses.

Arnold has met with village staff, board members and stakeholders to get an understanding of the issues with the current facilities and future needs. She said that through these meetings, she has developed a “shared understanding” that the parks department, post office and administration operations have outgrown their facilities. 

“Even if you invest in those facilities, they may not function for you properly because of code and access issues,” Arnold said. 

She said her interviews have shown a desire for co-location of facilities where possible to create efficiencies, that a larger community space is needed, and that “it’s common sense that the parks and maintenance building be located next to its storage facility at the sports complex,” rather than at the old fire station building next to the library on Mill Road. 

“I’m also hearing there is a desire to find a good public purpose for the post office [building] if it’s vacated,” she said.

Arnold is expected to present her final recommendations in September. 

Waterfront Park Projects

Village administrator Julie Schmelzer and parks director Dan Klansky presented updates on several projects at Waterfront Park, including changes to the gazebo. Staff members are soliciting bids for adding a rectangular wing off one end of the gazebo, with stone benches and an island with outlets for serving food in the center. The village has secured a $50,000 grant for the project.

They are also soliciting bids to replace the light poles in the park with dark-sky–friendly path lighting and ground lighting along the boardwalk, as well as researching options for a fence around the concrete at the beach restroom to confine people to the concrete area and prevent them from walking on the grass. 

A proposal to build an 18-inch stone fence along the southern edge of the grass near the pavilion was rejected by the committee. 

“For the masonry work and cost it would require, I would rather spend the money on some other project,” committee chair Denise Bhirdo said. 

Request for More Trash Receptacles

Mitch Larson of On Deck Clothing Company asked the village to install a garbage receptacle at the corner of Maple Road and Highway 42, and also throughout the village.
“We have an opening policy at my store every day where we walk around and pick up trash,” Larson said. But that trash has increased to the point where he says staff are picking up a bag of trash some days, much of which he blamed on the bar crowds in the village. 

Sister Bay maintains public garbage cans only in village parks, but it used to have them throughout the village, Bhirdo said. 

“I can’t remember why we stopped doing it,” she said. 

Schmelzer said that staff reported there was once a receptacle on the corner Larson mentioned, “but it only lasted two weeks because the bar crowd kept tipping it over and spreading garbage,” so it was removed. 

“People have gotten out of control in Sister Bay right now,” Schmelzer said. “Sometimes it’s the Wild West out there.”

Larson noted that Fish Creek, where his flagship store is located, maintains 35 receptacles throughout the town, empties them first thing every morning, and does not appear to have problems doing so. 

The committee instructed staff to investigate options for more trash cans and potentially a different style to update the look of the receptacles in the village. 

Bertram Recommended for Broadband

The committee forwarded a recommendation to the village board to enter into a contract with Bertram Communications to provide broadband to every home in the village. Much of the village can already get service from existing providers, but Bertram has proposed a higher level of service at a lower cost. 

Bertram provided an estimate of $4,258,774 to install fiber to 1,534 addresses in the village, but Bertram would cover the cost of engineering, hardware and grant-writing to bring the cost down to $3,275,980. Bertram will not charge hook-up fees to existing property owners and said the monthly residential plan would cost $47.99 per month for speeds of 250 megabytes per second. Spectrum, the current provider for much of the village, charges an introductory rate of $49.99 per month that rises to $74.99 after one year. 

The project, if approved by the board, would be completed within 18 months, according to Jim Bertram, owner of Bertram Communications.

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