A job-creating water research and educational facility to be located in Sturgeon Bay is one of the ideas from the Ad Hoc West Waterfront Planning Committee that’s starting to get traction. The Sturgeon Bay city council adopted a resolution Tuesday supporting the formation of a National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR).
According to council member Laurel Hauser, the possibility of recruiting an esturary research and educational facility came from a meeting of the ad hoc planning committee that was formed last year to replace work of the controversial Waterfront Redevelopment Authority. Hauser spearheaded the formation of the ad hoc committee and serves as its co-chair.
Door County Economic Development Corporation executive director Jim Schuessler spoke in support of a council resolution supporting the research facility.
The resolution passed by a unanimous vote.
Caitlin Oleson, a member of the ad hoc committee, said buildings would range from large to small footprints. She cited Superior as an example of a National Estuarine Research Reserve facility that is located in a former waterfront restaurant that has been retrofitted into a visitor center as well. She also acted as project manager for a Wisconsin Coastal Management Program and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration-funded feasibility and exploration study on a research station for the Green Bay ecosystem.
The project is being coordinated by UW Green Bay. In a request to place the resolution of support on the council agenda, council members Hauser and David Ward said that research activities draw scholars, and their funding from beyond Wisconsin and the US borders. Benefits would include “employment opportunities in the region, enhancing the quality of UW-Green Bay’s scholarly activities, and ultimately injecting money into the local economy.”
Caitlin told council members the process for approval of the NERR for northeast Wisconsin can take as long as five years.
If approved and Sturgeon Bay is selected as a location, the council resolution does not specify where the facility would be located but, according to Hauser, it would meet the public use requirement for building on the city’s west-side waterfront now protected by the public trust doctrine.