#87: Lake Michigan Research Institute / NERR

Beginning in August 2015, some folks in Sturgeon Bay and then Green Bay, led by Caitlin Oleson, have been pursuing a freshwater research center in town. Following Caitlin’s year-long investigation project for UW-Green Bay (2017), a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) has emerged as a top candidate. These materials were included in the Waterfront Advisory Committee’s planning materials and ideas.

The Neeskay, out of UW-Milwaukee’s renowned School of Freshwater Science, operates out of Sturgeon Bay each season. The bay of Green Bay is the World’s Largest Freshwater Estuary.

The Neeskay, out of UW-Milwaukee’s renowned School of Freshwater Science, operates out of Sturgeon Bay each season. The bay of Green Bay is the World’s Largest Freshwater Estuary.

The bay of Green Bay is the World’s Largest Freshwater Estuary. In January 2016, Ms. Oleson convened a conference bringing together leaders from UW-Green Bay, UW-Milwaukee, UW-Oshkosh, UW-Manitowoc, state and federal agencies, to discuss the needs of a research operation and facilities, and associated technology clusters and affiliated programs, in Sturgeon Bay.

January 2016 Conference. UW-Green Bay’s Matt Dornbush and Caitlin Oleson speaking.

January 2016 Conference. UW-Green Bay’s Matt Dornbush and Caitlin Oleson speaking.


Attendees and notes from the conference are here.

More recently, I believe both Sturgeon Bay and Door County have written letters of support for a NERR. Hopefully the Waterfront Committee (on which Ms. Oleson serves), city staff, and Council are able to make positive progress on this exciting endeavor.


Submitted by N. Aten

#86: Freshwater / Maritime Research District at West Waterfront

In last week’s public input meetings on the westside waterfront, I got excited by the idea of a whole District, a Freshwater or Maritime Research District connecting the whole westside working waterfront, with institutional/research/exhibit facilities, adjoining a wonderful public waterfront greenspace featuring a beautifully restored Granary icon, and inspiring affiliated small businesses and affordable housing nearby. Green Bay is the Largest Freshwater Estuary in the World!

Attached is an annotated drawing with notes along these lines, building from the ideas proposed from the community last week and shown in SEH’s visually presented ideas on Wednesday evening at the high school.

Quoting strongtowns.org on the benefits of a series of smaller incremental development projects that build on each other , "Incremental development means making small bets on many small projects over a broad area over a long period of time”- a good way to maintain a city’s resilience.

My other notes submitted to SEH include these: Be incremental. Paced. Learn as we go. Include other ventures as we go. Sustain character. Think through, with care for future generations. Grow our young adult population. Make a vibrant town supporting ingenuity and providing opportunity. Public waterfront is precious; it is gold. Authentic working waterfront is a tremendous asset. History, and stories, and the heart they embody, sustain and nourish a community.

submitted by Nancy Aten

#85: Maritime Craft/Skill Active School at West Waterfront

Good day -

I have long been interested in putting the west side waterfront between the Maritime Museum and the Maple-Oregon bridge to the highest and best use possible. If that use could be consistent with retaining the berths for the working tug fleet, then so much the better.

I would love to see the property used for an active school - something on the order of the Northhouse Folk School in Grand Marais, Minnesota. [There’s a wonderful video to watch on that webpage, scroll down slightly].

or The Woodenboat School in Brooklin, Maine.

A school like these would be a wonderful adjunct to our already active maritime, art and music scene. There are skilled people in the community who could teach the courses; it would be a wonderful complement to the Maritime Museum. Rather than competing with, a new folk school would attract visitors who would use and occupy Sturgeon Bay’s existing lodging, eating and retail establishments.

Please consider this suggestion as you contemplate new use for this irreplaceable property.


Tim Graul

[Addendum from CenterLine: Suggestion #68: Hands On Deck boat-building in Green Bay, is related].

#84: "Give us back access to our waterfront, and we'll rebuild our community"

Great article about revitalization via public access to waterfront in Buffalo, New York. Public investment led to six times the amount in private investments.

The final word... “People’s desire to regain lost access to the waterfront has surfaced,” Mayor Dyster says. “Give us back access to our waterfront, and we’ll rebuild our community.”

Read "How Buffalo Got Its Waterfront: River restoration is influencing the city’s economy, public space and environmental health".

"...The city was able to re-imagine the future of the space, and that process led the city toward a more inclusive vision."


Read about the book Celebrating Buffalo's Waterfront.


Submitted by Laurel H via fb and contributions from others via fb

#83: The importance of learning from others (and begin with: getting community input right)

This suggestion is two-fold:

(1) Begin an ongoing speakers series in Sturgeon Bay - bring in expertise relate to the ways in which we are envisioning the community's future.

(2) As a first speaker, bring in Ruben Anderson (consultant) or Chuck Marohn from Strong Towns (a national nonprofit from Brainerd, Minnesota) to speak about how to engage community members and effectively gather community input. Public engagement is difficult to do well. Strong Towns has recently written two helpful articles. Since the second one is a response to and incorporates much of the first one, if you are short on time, just read the second one, Part Two:

Public Engagement Part Two

Public Engagement First Article

If you're having the public draw bike lanes, think about why. What expertise do they have that your bike planners don't? (Image source: NYC Department of Transportation)

If you're having the public draw bike lanes, think about why. What expertise do they have that your bike planners don't? (Image source: NYC Department of Transportation)


submitted by Nancy Aten

#82: Arts as an economic development focus

"Small towns with aging populations throughout rural Minnesota are searching for ways to bring new blood and new ideas to their communities. [...] Cathy Anderson, director of the Granite Falls Economic Development Authority, said efforts have built on work already done by the city’s Arts Council. 'They really are waking up our sleepy little town with art,' Anderson said. 'I was sort of banking on health care [for economic development], and then the arts kind of took me by surprise. But as an economic development person, I’ll take growth wherever it comes from.'

"YES House occupies a previously vacant building on Prentice Street, the town’s main drag, that housed a variety of retail stores in its lifetime. The building was donated to Hanson’s group by its owner... Renovation is underway, funded by a combination of city money, grants and community fundraising — as well as a lot of volunteer effort.... Mayor Dave Smiglewski said the City Council has strongly supported the effort. 'We’ve got an underutilized building that’s going to be repurposed and turned into something that’s going to be an interesting place to launch new ideas,' he said. 'Should be fun to see how it goes.' ".

Read more here.

Granite Falls, MN. (Star Tribune)

Granite Falls, MN. (Star Tribune)

submitted via fb by Margaret M.

#81: The Sandwich Generation Solution: Day Care for Kids and Seniors

It seems like we've got a need for child-care services in order to retain a thriving young family and millennial population in Sturgeon Bay. Something to explore: combined senior and child day care.

Read full article here .

"A growing trend in day care facilities...: intergenerational day care. These facilities house adult care programs as well as child-care programs in one center, often combining activities for both sets of clients throughout the day. The number of these innovative programs is on the rise. In December 2005, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 500 intergenerational day care facilities had opened up around the country, more than double what was available just 10 years earlier.

"Julianne Joerres, marketing associate at the St. Ann Center for Adult and Child Day Care in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, elaborated on this trend. She said that when her adult clients served as mentors and teachers to the children they gained 'a sense of purpose and added dignity to their lives.'

"... the many benefits children receive from interaction with 'the neighbors,' or the older clients. Children receive more one-on-one attention. The toddlers enjoy sitting on the lap of one of the neighbors and having a book read to them before napping. The 2-year-olds also get neighbor lunch partners who offer help and conversation during the meal. The elder clients also help out in the infant room holding and rocking the babies individually -- an unhurried time that is not often possible in traditional child care facilities."


Submitted by NA

#80: Waterfront cultural center

I would like to see the west side waterfront become a multi-purpose cultural and community center. I would like to see an indoor venue for concerts and theater performance, with preference given to local artists. A year round farmer's market should be part of the project also. The surrounding land could become a permaculture food forest for the community's use and enjoyment.

submitted by Paula Wendland

Landscape architect Mitchell Wright and permaculture designer Chris Sanchez created a conceptual plan for the proposed East Feast Festival Beach Food Forest. See https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2014-02-14/the-way-of-the-food-forest/

Landscape architect Mitchell Wright and permaculture designer Chris Sanchez created a conceptual plan for the proposed East Feast Festival Beach Food Forest. See https://www.austinchronicle.com/news/2014-02-14/the-way-of-the-food-forest/

#79: Art co-op at the old Sawyer school

I would love to see the old Sawyer School repurposed as a cooperative live/work space for local artisans. The City could offer rental subsidies to members in exchange for their offering free community events, like open studios or demonstrations. A gallery space for the artisans living in the building should be included too.

submitted by Paula Wendland

Jackson Art Center, Washington, DC

Jackson Art Center, Washington, DC

#78: The case for building $1,500 parks: Invest in low-cost but high-impact design interventions

"[This research] is a reminder that parks can be inexpensive, ubiquitous, and simple. Even at the scale of a vacant lot, simply seeing greenery can make us feel better."

See article here.

" 'The beauty of the intervention is that it’s pretty simple,' says Dr. Eugenia C. South, one of the authors on a new study that tracked hundreds of vacant lots across Philadelphia. 'Which is good for replication in other cities and being able to scale it up. Also, the cost is relatively inexpensive compared to other types of interventions you might do for health.'

"The study, published in JAMA Network Open by a group of five doctors at the University of Pennsylvania including South, is the first to observe a cause and effect between access to 'greened' vacant lots and improved mental health through a randomized controlled trial. Their research paints a vivid picture of how our neighborhoods impact our well-being and provides new evidence for why cities should be investing in low-cost but high-impact design interventions like lot greening."


Submitted by Smart Growth Sturgeon Bay, and Wisconsin Downtown Action Council.

#77: Friendly park ambassador t-shirts?

Maybe city park workers (whether staff or volunteer or a "Friends" group) could have an identifiable t-shirt that is also friendly and welcoming - letting everyone working in and helping with the parks also serve as park ambassadors to the community. Also each person probably has unique knowledge to share - so maybe the t-shirts could say that, too.


submitted by Nancy Aten


#76: Civic coalitions succeed at revitalizing towns where governmental efforts can fail

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, "They realized that the only way they could re-energize downtown was ... by throwing partisan politics out the window and forming a complex adaptive coalition in which business leaders, educators, philanthropists, social innovators and the local government would work together to unleash entrepreneurship and forge whatever compromises were necessary...

"At 7:30 Friday morning in early June, the Hourglass leaders in Lancaster were all sitting around the kitchen table at Art Mann Sr.’s house, as they do every Friday. The seven women and men   representing different Lancaster societal and business interests were discussing the region’s shortage of clean water, because of farm runoff, fertilizer and salt on the streets.

"None is in city government or an elected politician; they’re just respected volunteer community activists who will make a recommendation, based on research, to the city or county to get a problem fixed and help galvanize resources to do it. They all know one another’s party affiliation, but they’ve checked them at Mann’s front door.

" 'The key to it all is trust,' Mann explained to me. 'Politically we are all different, and our experiences are different. You can only get progress where there is trust. People trust that we are not in it for personal agendas and not partisan agendas.  We will often host elected officials, and they will throw out ideas and we will give them feedback.' ".

See article here.

Shared by Laurel H.

#75: ‘A win-win’: Using local church buildings/property to address the affordable-housing crisis

“In Matthew 25, we are called to feed the hungry, clothe the naked,” the Rev. Sam Marullo, a former professor at the District’s Wesley Theological Seminary, said at a forum on faith and affordable housing in the District last month. “I would add into that Matthew 25 quote, ‘Build housing for those that need housing.’ ”

See article here.

Suggested to Sturgeon Bay and other Door County communities via fb by Kathleen T, comment by Wayne: "Thanks, worthy of discussion considering what seems to be a large number of churches underutilized and what appears to be declining membership trends across religions."

#74: Heritage Signs

While strolling around downtown Green Bay yesterday we read quite a few plaques on old buildings relating their histories. How cool would it be to know the history of our own lovely buildings.....the Fairfield, Parsons, Draeb just to name a few!♡

Submitted by Liz Orlock


#73: Join the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative

Ajax, ON, June 14, 2018 – At the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative annual conference in Ajax, Canadian and US mayors celebrated the strong, integrated relationship on environment and economy that binds our two countries and the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region as a whole... “As mayors in the Great Lakes St. Lawrence region, we represent a community of common interest, dedicated to the protection of our shared waters and our integrated economic prosperity,” said incoming Cities Initiative chair Sandra Cooper, Mayor of Collingwood (population 21,793). ...At the conference, civic leaders announced the creation of the Mayors’ Council on Nature and Communities, an exciting new venture to create natural spaces in urbanized areas and contribute to national efforts to reach the UN Convention on Biodiversity 17% natural spaces target by 2020. The initiative will begin in Ontario as a regional pilot, chaired by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie, with vice-chair Mitch Twolan, mayor of Huron-Kinloss.

See the member cities here, they include Sheboygan, Port Washington, Kenosha, Superior, and Washburn, WI (population 2,098).

Among their initiatives is Green CiTTS (Cities Transforming Towards Sustainability). "This program showcases the actions of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence cities in moving the entire region towards a sustainable future and provides support to cities to go even further down the path towards sustainability. The Cities Initiative provides information and financial support for cities who would like to improve their green infrastructure projects. The objectives of the Green CiTTS program are to:

  1. Protect Water Resources and Coastal Areas
  2. Promote Low-Carbon Energy Generation and Consumption
  3. Adopt Green Land Use and Building Design
  4. Encourage Green Economic Development".

Perhaps Sturgeon Bay can join and commit to the initiative. So many common interests, in towns big and small, that share the Great Lakes. Sign up for their newsletter here. Thank you for your consideration.

Submitted by Nancy Aten


#72: Mixed-age inter-generational housing includes seniors

See Mixed-age senior living examples that are inspiring.

At Judson Manor in Cleveland, "While unique, the living arrangement has its perks for both generations. Studies have shown that there are huge health benefits to the elderly—from fighting dementia to regulating blood pressure —that come from social contact with younger people. Meanwhile, college students are struggling with increasing college debts and housing costs.
Read more.

At Bridge Meadows in Portland, "Elders help neighbors in myriad ways, gaining what amounts to an extended family in return. That’s the mission of this privately funded nonprofit organization that established a multigenerational community on a former elementary school site in North Portland. The cluster of townhomes and apartments brings together low-income elders and nine adults who have adopted or are in the process of adopting children out of foster care through an organization that provides on-site services and creates a support network for all. Read more.

At Mosaic Commons in Berlin, Massachusetts, 67-year old John Barrett lives at Mosaic Commons, a new intergenerational cohousing community, ages 8 months to 73 years old, 45 minutes west of Boston. He and his wife, Judy Dempewolff, are in good company; there are 124 mixed-age cohousing developments nationwide that include boomers and older adults. More than 40 are in the planning stages. Read more.

Hope Meadows in Illinois, established 21 years ago, has inspired a number of other communities. At one, that includes both young mothers and seniors, "the young mothers can take the seniors to the doctor, and the seniors can help out with child care while the moms are at school or at work." Read more.

Perhaps Sturgeon Bay planners can proactively explore alternative housing that supports seniors, young families, and students all together.

Submitted by Nancy Aten


#71: Historic school converted to affordable apartments

In Sheboygan - "Washington School Apartments have taken an old school landmark and applied a fashionable new school look. With energy efficient appliances, large picture windows, and original wood floors you will be the envy of all your friends and family. Whether you want to relax in the ample green space, or work out in our on-site fitness center, we have something in mind for everyone. Located in downtown Sheboygan we are close to shopping, dining, and entertainment."

In 2015, "The city plan commission approved a plan to convert the old Washington School into apartments targeting low-income earners. Gorman and Co. bought the building from the Sheboygan Area School District for around $300,000 and was the only developer to submit a proposal for redevelopment." In 2016, "The project to turn Washington School into apartments has been awarded the tax credits crucial to moving the transformation forward. The Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority has awarded Gorman and Co. $424,008 annually in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits  to start work turning Washington School into a 42-unit apartment complex. Of those units, 34 would be restricted by income to those making no more than $49,000 a year."

Submitted by Nancy Aten



#70: Pressure Washing the Granary

Pressure washing the granary may be harmful to the wood. Consider soda blasting, like the old public works bldg. Ask Venture Architects.

-  Bob Zakaras

(Thank you. This was sent promptly to the Sturgeon Bay Historical Society on June 12th).

#69: Being proactive about Younkers closing - many ideas

Recent news indicates Younkers may be closing. A recent facebook conversation begun by Charolette Baierl asks for ideas. Many in the community are concerned for Younkers employees and future opportunities. And, large vacant storefronts create additional concern - and also ideas.

In response to this question: We will lose Younkers in Sturgeon Bay. How will this incredible real-estate be re-used?

Ideas suggested informally include housing, mixed-use including retail, UW-Sturgeon Bay or UW-Extension, a co-working space, indoor market, call center, housing for the elderly, world’s best art / food cooperative space, another DCEDC great business incubator location to complement the industrial park, low-cost apartments, multi-generational housing (space in the basement for common areas and an elevator for elderly) and adaptive reuse, children's museum, housing / art studio mixed use, Miller Art Museum expanded location... and more. Excerpted comments are attached here.

This is also a good reminder of the talented pool of community members willing, enthusiastic, talented and knowledgeable, ready to contribute to future community planning when asked.

--------- Response 4/25 from Alderwoman Avenson:

Thank you for sending ideas and community input from Center Line Forum.  On Monday Pam Seiler of the Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center put an informal meeting together to do exactly as stated in this suggestion, to be proactive.  

DCEDC, Joel Kitchens, Josh and Christopher from the City, David Hayes (District 2 alderperson), Kelly Avenson (District 4 alderperson) and Nicolet Bank were all present.  

There was talk regarding what is needed in Sturgeon Bay, what could fill those locations and be sustainable into the future and so on. We are working on this first step, what does the owner(s) of the property plan on doing with the real estate and another meeting is set for Monday.  If there is someone that would be an asset to have at these meetings please have them contact me.  

I believe that many more conversations should and will be had and I hope to invite the public to participate once we have a little more insight into the property owners' intent.

Thank you,


#68: Small boat-building nonprofit - a chapter here, using a vacant building?

At the Green Bay Conservation Roundtable last week, GB's Hands On Deck shared their programs. They are a nonprofit organization empowering youth and families to succeed together through experiential learning focused on the science and art of building wooden boats and the preservation of traditional skills.

"We have provided over one hundred wooden boat building and traditional skill classes with the Boy Scouts, Green Bay Public School System, Brown County Public Library, Brown County PALS, and Victory Academy in Northern Wisconsin. The last two groups focus directly on assisting at-risk youth. Working with HOD enables these groups to greatly enhance their missions."

Their "wheelbarrow boat" boat-building project is cool.

They are part of the Teaching With Small Boats Alliance, which has conferences and provides resources. Hands on Deck Green Bay is currently the only Wisconsin affiliate.

Maybe we could establish a chapter/affiliate in Sturgeon Bay, maybe finding a great purpose for a vacant building, maybe in partnerships with NWTC, the Maritime Museum, the school district,  local social services programs, etc.