River, downtown may draw greater focus in 2015

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Downtown Plymouth and the Mullet River corridor could be getting even more focus next year.

City Administrator Brian Yerges told the Redevelopment Authority at their meeting Thursday that the city is looking at funding a study of the entire river corridor – from city limits to city limits – next year.

“Right now, there are three distinct discussions going on,” about the river corridor, Yerges noted.

That includes the RDA’s Mullet Riverwalk subcommittee, the Park Board and the Plymouth Mill Pond Lake Association.

The first group focuses on the river walkway from the Mill Pond west, the second on city parks along the river such as Stayer Junior Park, and the last on the Mill Pond and dam.

“You have three different committees doing three different things and they’re not always consistent,” Yerges said. “There is talk about doing a planning study for the entire Mullet River corridor.

“In that whole area, there’s a variety of issues,” he concluded.

An independent study could bring the goals of all three groups – as well as others involved – into synch, provide some direction for the river corridor and identify current strengths and weaknesses.

Yerges noted that much of the area along the river – include stretches of the riverwalk – are on or cross private property.

“If there’s improvements we want in those areas, we need to work with the property owners. Technically, we shouldn’t do anything without contacting them,” Yerges said, speaking of the riverwalk specifically as well as the entire river corridor.

The RDA also continued dis- cussion on two vacant Mill Street buildings which the city purchased in tax foreclosure – 31 E. Mill St. and 133 E. Mill St.

The group agreed to list 31 E. Mill St. for sale with Pleasant View Realty through next summer. Any sale would be contingent on the purchaser completing a developer’s agreement with the city.

“It’s a good idea to make assertive moves to sell it,” RDA member Jackie Jarvis stated.

Hope was not high that the city will be able to find a buyer for the vacant building among all RDA members, however.

“It would be wonderful if somebody bought it and wanted to fix it up, but our chances of getting an offer on that building are probably zero to none,” RDA chair Lee Gentine observed.

At 133 E. Mill St., Yerges reported that demolition of the rear addition to the building has been completed and a new roof is nearly completed on the original historic structure.

“The goal is to make sure it’s weather tight and there’s no more water damage inside,” Gentine explained. “It really looks remarkably better having that building off the back end.”

He added that the goal is to try to save the building, which is located in the heart of downtown, while the 31 E. Mill St. building is at the edge of the downtown and might not be missed as much if it cannot be saved.

“We are trying to create another strategy to save that building,” Yerges said of 133 E. Mill St.

The upstairs could be converted into several apartments, he said, while one avenue being explored for the downstairs space might be a tie-in of some sort with the city’s cheese industry.

That could be a museum space celebrating the cheese industry and its history, a retail/outlet store space for local cheese companies and possibly other local food makers and vendors, or some combination of those and other uses, Gentine told the RDA.

“That building could be save, it’s just a matter of the right mix of uses,” Yerges added.

Gentine noted that downtown Plymouth presently does not offer anything connected with the industry that made the city the Cheese Capital of the World.

He and Yerges said that negotiations are continuing with Green Bay-based Language Links LLC over the trademark phrase “World’s Cheese Capital,” to which Language Links currently holds the rights. The goal is to secure rights to that phrase for the city.

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