County Board adds its support for getting four-lane 23 back on track

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

SHEBOYGAN – The County Board reiterated their support for expanding State 23 to four lanes from Plymouth to Fond du Lac at their Oct. 24 meeting.

The board’s unanimous vote in favor of the resolution “Supporting reconstruction and improvement of State Highway 23” comes as the state Department of Transportation is working to update the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) relating to the project.

“The reconditioning and improvement of Highway 23 is far, far overdue,” Supervisor Thomas Epping stated.

The resolution was approved without the usual referral to a second committee for a recommendation.

“The DOT is putting together a packet for the federal judge and it has be done by early November, so that’s why this has to be done so quickly,” County Board Chair Thomas Wegner explained.

“Highway 23 continues to be a very dangerous road,” County Administrator Adam Payne said. “We’re looking for safety enhancements that are long overdue and need to get done.”

The project was set to begin in May 2016 but was blocked by an injunction issued by U.S. District Judge Lynn Adelman. Adelman’s injunction came in response to a lawsuit brought by the environmental group 1000 Friends of Wisconsin.

A key provision of the EIS is the inclusion of public comments on the proposed four-lane expansion project.

Citizens who have thoughts or feeling regarding the need for the four-lane expansion of State 2 are strongly encouraged to submit comments to the DOT.

Comments can be submitted to bryan.lipke@dot.

Comments must be submitted to DOT by Sunday, Nov. 12.

The board received some negative feedback on its recent inclusion of a potential terminal building at the Sheboygan County Memorial Airport during the public addresses portion of their agenda.

Jay Hoogstra, a Sheboygan Falls resident and airport user, questioned statements during the board’s consideration of the capital improvement projects of support from various local companies for the project.

Hoogstra quoted from letters from officials at Windway Capital, Vollrath and Burrows Aviation.

“We are not ‘onboard’ at this time,” with the $6 million terminal proposal, Leslie Kohler of Windway and Paul Bartelt of Vollrath wrote, contradicting a statement at the September board meeting that Vollrath supported the proposal.

“I already have a building with all the amenities needed,” Mindy Smith of Burrows wrote after it was suggested that the terminal would be staffed with personnel from the fixed base operator, Burrows, rather than county personnel.

Smith added that an available stand-alone hangar building that is for sale for $235,000 could function as a customs facility – which one of the potential uses of a terminal building raised at the September meeting.

“It is of concern that decisions are made on information ‘heard’ from unattributed sources,” Hoogstra told the supervisors. “It is more than troubling when that information turns out to be incorrect.”

Hoogstra called on the board to reconsider the inclusion of the terminal in the 2019-21 portion of the capital plan be reconsidered. “Otherwise, you are literally deciding to spend multi millions of dollars to build on foundations of sand and hearsay.”

Payne defended the comments at the September meeting, contending that the support quoted from Vollrath and Lakeland University came from their representatives on the Airport Advisory Committee.

“I have directly heard from Kohler Co. officials who are interested in seeing a customs facility explored and a terminal building explored,” Payne added.

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