East Street purchase hits snag
A request from Marathon Cheese Corp. to acquire a portion of East Street from Marathon City has proven controversial.
Village administrator Andy Kurtz told board members last week Wednesday that the cheese processing company indicated interest in buying the 60-foot street right of way between Third and Fourth Streets as part of a project to add parking space and production facilities.
Trustee Connie Ruplinger, however, said she opposed the sale.
“I’m not in favor of this going to Marathon Cheese,” she said. “The school junior varsity softball team uses that diamond and some of those girls can hit the ball over the fence. We need a buffer. I am not in favor of vacating the street. Once you give it up, you don’t get it back.”
The trustee said she didn’t feel comfortable having the village host T-ball games with a manufacturing company parking lot located adjacent to the program’s diamond.
Further, Ruplinger argued that if the village sold East Street to Marathon Cheese Corp. it would have a hard time saying no to Menzner Lumber and Supply Co. which has, in the past, asked to acquire part of Market Street.
Ruplinger’s objection received support from board member Dave Wallenfelsz, who agreed with the need for a buffer, but other board members argued that Kurtz should discuss the proposal further with Marathon Cheese Corp. representatives and seek a way for the street portion to get sold, even if it would mean moving the village Chestnut Street ball diamond to a different location in the village.
Keith Paul brought up the idea of possibly moving the Chestnut Street ball diamond to a different spot in the village and possibly selling both part of East Street and the diamond to Marathon Cheese Corp.
Administrator Kurtz said the village’s comprehensive plan did speak about possibly moving the village’s ball diamond to a new area, but he cautioned that doing so would prove expensive.
“That kind of project is significant,” he said.
Trustee Mark Ludwig, seeking a compromise, questioned whether the village could possibly sell Marathon Cheese Corp. half of the 60-foot right of way.
Village president Dave Bellanger noted the company had a stellar “track record” of development in the village.
Board members unanimously agreed to table action on the request.
In other village board business:
_ Administrator Kurtz reported the Marathon City police and fire departments were equipped with personal protection equipment to guard against COVID-19. The fire department, he said, recently received a donation of 20 reusable facemasks from a dental supply company. The village, he said, could receive further supplies from Marathon County Emergency Government.
_ Administrator Kurtz said the Marathon County Highway Department recently fixed a five-inch gap between the STH 107 bridge deck and abutment. The deck hole could have caused a motorcycle accident, he said.
_ Administrator Kurtz said a production stop at Ford Motor Co. due to the coronavirus will delay the delivery of a village one-ton truck.
_ Board members voted to restrict use of the village board room to village use only.
“I’m not in favor of the room being used except for village business,” said trustee Keith Paul. Other trustees agreed with Paul.
The passed motion answers the Marathon Scouts who asked to use the board room for their gatherings.
Paul suggested that the Marathon Scouts use Marathon Area Elementary School as their meeting location.
_ Boardmembersmadeplanstomeet jointly with the Marathon Utility Commission and plan how to get briefed by engineering firm Strand Associates and later hold a public hearing on a proposed $7.7 million AeroMod wastewater treatment plant project. Trustee Mark Ahrens said he wanted to be “in the same room” with Strand engineers to discuss the proposal. He said discussing the plan remotely didn’t work for him. “This is not spending $20,000 on a police squad,” he said. “This is $7 million.”
Board members were unsure about how to hold a public hearing on the proposal during the coronavirus outbreak. Trustee Paul suggested using the Marathon High School auditorium and spacing people out at least six feet apart. Trustee Kevin Sorenson offered use of his private shed for the hearing.
Administrator Kurtz said the DNR has asked the village to approve a facilities master plan by May 1, but that deadline was set before the COVID-19 outbreak.
The proposed sewer plant update will require a 72 percent increase in sewer rates, according to a Strand Associates presentation. Currently, a home that uses 3,070 gallons a month pays $34.81 for sewage treatment. With the proposed rate increase, the monthly change will increase to $59.87 a month. That charge is close to what similar sized communities pay per month at the same water usage, according to the engineering firm (New Glarus, $45.27; Deerfield, $56.67; and Rib Lake, $62.91).
_ Board members voted to approve donating $100 to the Marathon High School yearbook.