Possible downtown reconstruction discussed at open forum Submitted: 02/10/2014
MANITOWISH WATERS - A Manitowish Waters woman wants to change the look of the area's downtown. Some local residents aren't thrilled with her plans. The town used a forum to talk things out. Newswatch 12 was there and talked with the town's supervisor. "It's creating a lot of tension in the community. I think we have to find a way to fix it and to ease their feelings." said Manitowish Waters Town Board Supervisor, Eric Behnke.

Construction can cause tension. You can find that feeling in Manitowish Waters. One person in the community want to upgrade a local park. But a good portion of the funding would come from a private donor. "It's creating a lot of hardships, people are not happy about it and as a town we need to find a way to make this situation better." Behnke said. Liz Uihlein owns businesses in the area. She wants to change the look of the community and she could. But the town hasn't approved her proposal. That's why the chamber sponsored a town forum so people could talk and ask questions about the donations. "Is there a process that you use to evaluate them? At what point do we say, you know, 'Too much of our budgets is these donations and it's not what we have funded'?" said town resident, Scott Bertz. "As well as how much of this is the town's plan and how much of this is someone else's plan?" But many of those questions don't have answers. That's because donations don't need a vote by the town's people. "Unfortunately with our policy, if it's a donation, some of the town board members can use that money without townsmen approval," Behnke said. "I think that's what we need to focus on." But the possibility of voting on donation spending is still up for question. "The one thing we can do is be open and honest with people. We have to communicate with people about what's going on," said Behnke. "If they don't have an opportunity to vote on these projects, then they really don't know about them. So I think it's our job to communicate with the people about what's happening and educate them on where the money's coming from and what it's being used for."

Story By: Shardaa Gray

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