Council approves incentive for 133 E. Mill St. building

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – Anyone who wants to buy and rehabilitate the vacant building at 133 E. Mill St. could get a helping hand - $15,000 worth – from the city.

With some expressed reservations, the City Council Tuesday approved a recommendation from the Redevelopment Authority to offer the incentive – roughly equivalent to what it is estimated it would cost to tear the vacant building down.

City Administrator Brian Yerges explained that the RDA purchased the empty building in foreclosure several years ago and has been trying unsuccessfully since then to find a buyer who will rehabilitate the structure.

“Historically, we have had policing and property maintenance issues at that property,” Yerges conceded.

He allowed that there are a number of structural issues with the building and that remodeling would be needed to convert the first floor space to commercial use, as is required under the city’s building code.

“It’s not a prime spot for business or residential,” Alderman John Nelson observed. “I don’t see value in that.”

Nelson also asked about parking issues with the property.

Yerges admitted that there is no on-site parking on the property after the repaving of State 67 this summer obliterated the driveway access to the lot off Mill Street.

“If there are no parking places associated with the building, what is the value of the building,” Nelson asked.

Alderman Jack Fernsler questioned whether a $15,000 incentive would be enough to entice a developer, given all the issues with the building and parking.

“I’d rather see you dump it and tear it down,” Fernsler stated.

“Interest (in the property) currently is nil,” Alderman David Williams, a member of the RDA, admitted. “I am basically against tearing down buildings on Mill Street, but this is becoming an eyesore. I’m kind of going toward cutting our losses and tearing that thing down.”

Yerges replied that the RDA basically wanted to take one last stab at preserving the building. “From their perspective, they said what is another year in the grand scheme of things,” Yerges related.

“The RDA apparently has put some time and discussion into this,” Council President Charles Hansen said. “That’s what that group is for. What’s one more year going to cost us?”

Hansen’s motion to authorize the incentive passed by a vote of 6-1, with Fernsler voting no and Alderman Shawn Marcom absent.

Railroad operations complaint

In the audience portion of the agenda, Appleton Street resident Barbara Spieker raised issues she has with newlyrestored rail service through the city.

Her chief objection was to the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad parking a locomotive on tracks near his residence which they leave running overnight.

“It started Friday night at 3 a.m.,” Spieker told the council. “They let it run for 33 hours. (With that) thump-thumpthump hour after hour, a lot of us couldn’t sleep. It makes your throat and eyes burn.”

Spieker said railroad officials told her the engine needs to be kept running overnight in order to keep water in the engine from freezing and causing expensive damage to the engine.

“Why do they choose to park (the engine) in the middle of residential areas instead of somewhere else, or just plug it in,” she asked.

“What I’d like to see happen is for anybody at City Hall to take responsibility for what you enthusiastically and misguidedly invited into the city, if the city could negotiate with the railroad for a responsible way to operate in the city,” she concluded.

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