Marathon City board will review project priorities
The Marathon City Village Board last week Wednesday agreed to hold a strategic planning session to firm up the projects administrator Andy Kurtz should pursue.
Kurtz suggested the session, saying that it might be a “good idea to get together and identify opportunities, evaluate things that could happen or change direction.”
The administrator said he believed he had “pretty clear marching orders” from the village board but wanted to make sure both he and trustees were “in lock-step.”
Board members enthusiastically supported having a planning session to supplement the village’s comprehensive plan.
“I think that’s an awesome plan so we can all get on the same page,” trustee Keith Paul said. “The comprehensive plan is done every 10 years. That’s too long. We should be looking at this annually.”
Trustee Mark Ahrens said he agreed with holding a meeting and bringing in a facilitator.
Board member Connie Ruplinger said she supported a strategic planning meeting to sort out project priorities. “We have so many projects at this time,” she said.
Trustee Kevin Sorenson said he looked forward to a “give and take” session but recommended it be held in person, not on the Zoom virtual platform where village meetings have been typically held during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kurtz said an in-person meeting could be held in the village hall community room with proper social distancing, but Ruplinger said the meeting might have to be cancelled if too many members of the public showed up.
Village president Dave Bellanger suggested a hybrid Zoom and in-person meeting.
Kurtz said he would work on a safe, practical meeting format.
Board members left to Kurtz when the meeting would be held.
In other village board news:
_ Board members voted to seat Janine McCain as a new trustee to serve out the remainder of resigned member Dave Wallenfelsz’s term in office.
In an interview with board members, McCain, a village fire department EMT, said she is employed as controller at Plover River Farms, Stevens Point, and is a private tax preparer. She said she and her family moved to Marathon City in 2014 and was attracted to the village for its quality school system and its “clean, homey feeling.” She said it was “very, very nice” that Marathon City, as a small village, has several companies that have a “national presence.” McCain said the village’s top three priorities are bringing a grocery store to town, revitalizing the downtown and adding affordable housing.
_ Board members agreed to take no action on a request by Clayton Phillips to get an exemption from the village’s ordinance outlawing outdoor wood furnaces. Administrator Kurtz relayed village attorney Shane VanDer Waal’s judgment that the village’s ordinance prohibiting outdoor solid-fuel furnaces could be repealed but no exemptions were permitted.
Board members suggested Phillips work with Kurtz to heat his home with either natural gas, LP or a legal indoor wood burning stove, but Phillips said he continued to want to heat his home with an outdoor wood furnace.
Trustee Paul cautioned Phillips to understand that there was “a low percent of likelihood” that the village board would overturn its outdoor furnace ordinance, especially given the history of lingering smoke in the village.
_ Kurtz reported that a village Ford F-150 pick-up truck had been ordered and was expected to arrive Feb. 21, 2021, that the Marathon Fire Department no longer holds in-person drills due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that there was a Thanksgiving water main break at the intersection of Fifth and Hemlock Streets. Kurtz said he is requesting that residents mail in tax bills and money for dog licenses to the village office rather than paying inperson due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
_ Board members directed administrator Kurtz to “tighten up” the village building code in order to give village officials power to require heat, running water, lockable doors, secure windows and unexposed wiring in apartments rented in Marathon City. The updated code, said Kurtz, would also require new homes meet state housing code standards.
_ Trustees voted to change the zoning of two business park parcels from commercial to multi-family to accommodate construction of apartments by S.C. Swiderski.
_ Board members voted to vacate a portion of East Street to accommodate a Marathon Cheese Corp. expansion project. A nearby small softball diamond is planned to be sold to the cheese processing firm. The board also voted to vacate a 64 feet portion of unused alley between Washington and Hickory Streets. The property will transfer to Ben and Steffanie Salber, 311 First Street.
_ Board members gave final official approval of the 2021 village budget and levy with no changes from last month.