MARINETTE — The concrete barriers at 1510 Main St. soon may be replaced with more attractive ones.
The Marinette Civic Affairs, Traffic & Lights Committee Monday voted 4-1 to recommend to the Common Council that Fincantieri Marinette Marine (FMM) replace the current barriers with ones that are more appealing.
The barriers were installed about five years ago for security purposes — to prevent vehicles from driving into the building.
Bethany Skorik, public affairs manager at FMM, and Nathaniel T. Millsap Jr., director of industrial security & technology at FMM, were at the meeting to explain the shipbuilder’s plans regarding the concrete barriers.
Skorik said the 1510 Main St. building, called the Marinette Professional Center, currently houses offices for the Navy and Lockheed Martin.
“We all agree that those barriers need to be updated,” Skorik said, explaining that last month this committee rejected FMM’s plan to replace just the barriers on the south side of the building (facing Main Street).
She said FMM now plans to replace all of the current barriers that are visible from Main Street with decorative barriers. — that does not include those on the north side that face the alley. The committee, last month, suggested that the barriers be updated if they are going to be permanent or long-term.
Skorik provided a handout with illustrations showing that a total of 47 new barriers will surround three sides of the building. Each barrier weighs 3,800 pounds and is 8-feet long, 35 inches high and 2 feet deep. There will be 12 or 13 inches of space between each barrier, depending on the location.
Skorik said last month the panel asked if FMM could utilize decorative planters as well to make the area more aesthetically pleasing. She asked the committee Monday if the project could be done in phases, with FMM coming back in July with further information regarding its site plan.
“We are continuing to work through where we will put our specific contractors and which buildings we will utilize,” she said.
Skorik said, if approved, FMM could have the current barriers replaced in six to eight weeks.
Alderwoman Dorothy Kowalski said she is fine with the plan.
“I really don’t have a problem with the proposal,” she said. “We’re having it look nice in the short term. Once you figure out what all your site plans are, we can come back in July. I think that is reasonable.”
Alderman Doug Oitzinger, who appeared via Zoom video, asked if shipyard officials could come back in May with an update.
Millsap said it’s difficult to provide an estimate on FMM’s potential needs for that location and doing so would be presumptuous.
“I don’t really see a need for a status report if you’re really not going to have a better idea until July,” Kowalski said. “Why have them come in in May before they have a final decision?”
Oitzinger said he suggested May in order to provide landscaping to be done earlier at the site.
“We understand your concern,” Millsap acknowledged.
Kowalski stayed firm and said she didn’t see the need for FMM officials to come in two to three months before they have a site plan finalized.
Alderman Jason Flatt, the committee chairman, made a motion to recommend approval of the decorative barriers and FMM officials to come back and address the committee in July. His motion included that FMM pay for damage to a light pole that allegedly occurred when the original barriers were installed. He said that was the request of City Engineer Brian Miller.
Kowalski asked if FMM was notified of that damage “six, seven years ago, whenever these barriers were put in?”
“That was before my time,” Flatt said, adding that it’s clearly evident in photos that the light pole was damaged when the barriers were put in.
Kowalski said she thought it was “a little late in the game” to go after FMM for something that happened several years ago and was not brought to their attention immediately.
The vote to move the matter to the council was approved with Flatt, Oitzinger, Wally Hitt and Debbie Klegin voting yes. Kowalski voted no because she objected to the request for payment for the light pole being added to the motion. She said that was a separate issue that could have been discussed before the motion was made.
Flatt said the light pole information was brought forward two to three months ago.
Mayor Steve Genisot said the issue regarding payment to repair the damaged light pole can be discussed between the city and FMM. The cost to repair the light pole is not known.
In another matter, the committee voted 5-0 to recommend allowing one-hour parking on Ella Court Street, between Stephenson Street and Court Street during the hours of 8 a.m to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday.
This is the block behind the Marinette County Courthouse. County Administrator John LeFebvre addressed the committee on behalf of the county.