New fire museum boosts Kewaunee harbor project
In a meeting that melded the Cityof Kewaunee’s past and future, the Kewaunee City Council Monday approved a plan to build a fire department heritage museum, selected an engineering team for its harbor redevelopment, and recovered a brown leather book containing minutes of its first council meetings in 1883.
“I can’t believe the changes that are happening in the last three to four years,” said Mayor John Blaha. “They reinforce that people want to invest in our community.”
Before the meeting began, council members posed for a photo with the original record book of City Council meetings, including the first meeting held on April 24, 1883, which was recently found in the safe deposit box of a city resident and turned over to the mayor.
The book noted city resolutions and expenditures from 1883 to 1888, including a horse team and stagecoach fee of $8 for the first city surveyors and the purchase of the first city fire truck, which could be pulled by a horse or a man, from C.G. Carleton and Co. for $725.
This fire truck is one of the historic fire engines that would be housed in a new fire museum under a proposal presented to the council by James Kleiman, a captain of the Kewaunee Fire Department.
Members of the fire department want to build the museum on a city-owned parcel at the 300 block of Dodge Street, southwest of the renovated grandfather clock at the corner of Miller and Milwaukee streets. The new museum would add to tourist attractions in the downtown area, which now include the clock, Harbor Park, Tug Ludington an entrance to the Ahnapee Trail and the proposed boardwalk for Kewaunee Harbor redevelopment project.
“What really kicked off the idea for the fire museum was visiting a museum of antique fire equipment in Wisconsin Rapids, ” said Kleiman. “We realized that we should also display our fire heritage.”
The antique fire trucks are now kept in the city’s two existing fire stations but would be moved to the proposed museum. In addition to the 1884 fire truck, the city also has an 1870 chemical fire truck purchased from the city of Milwaukee in 1894, a 1908 hose cart and a 1927 fire engine that is still operable, according to Kleiman.
Kleiman told the city council that the museum will draw additional tourism to the city and the harbor.
“It will be a national draw for fire workers,” he said.
The 34- by 40- foot building, will be constructed like an “Amish barn raising” with volunteer labor provided by fire department employees and other city residents and will be designed with similar colors and materials as the existing clock, Kleiman said. The building also will contain public restrooms.
Kleiman estimates that the building will cost approximately $60,000. He told the City Council that Baylake Bank had already agreed to a $10,000 donation and that the fire department was committed to raising the remaining funds through individual and corporate donations. Donors will be recognized on a special board in the new museum.
“I am so excited about this I don’t know where to start,” said City Council member Sandi Christman.
Following Kleiman’s presentation, the council voted unanimously to approve the placement of the fire museum building on the city parcel.
“The fire department is a close-knit group that really cares about our community; they take pride in what they do and we’ve seen it,” Blaha said, adding that he was confident the fire museum would be a draw for both local residents and tourists.
The City Council also moved forward on the Kewaunee Harbor project, which includes a $4.2 million state grant to revitalize the harbor as a major attraction for residents and tourists. The state allocation will allow the city to repair 800 feet of the existing seawall between the Tug Ludington at Harbor Park to the base of the pier leading to the Kewaunee Pierhead Lighthouse. Under the redevelopment plan, the city will also add a boardwalk, green space, lighting, benches, public easements, more parking and additional access to existing and new retail spaces.
On Monday, the City Council approved the selection of Foth Infrastructure and Environment LLC to lead the engineering components of the project and will approve Foth’s final contract at a special meeting to be scheduled later this month, said Kyle Ellefson, city administrator.
“We are on a tight timetable,” said Ellefson, adding that the city hopes to have most of the project completed in 2016 and to begin construction June 1.
Foth will be working with Ayres Associates of Green Bay and Smith Group, JJR on development of plans for the seawall, park and lighthouse restoration. Foth also recently completed the restoration of the marina and harbor in Two Rivers and is currently working with Port Washington on a harbor project, according to Brian L. Hinrichs, client team leader.
Foth already has been working with the city to obtain other grants to help finance the project costs, said Ellefson. He said that the initial cost of the seawall repair is estimated to range from $3.5 to 4.2 million, but additional funds will be needed to finance the park and lighthouse improvements. The city is looking at possible funding from the federal Coastal Zone Management Program and state Harbor Assistance Program, Wisconsin Recreational Boaters Facilities grant and, Knowles-Nelson Stewardship funds, as well as the private Fund for Lake Michigan.
In December, the city also issued a request for proposals for redevelopment of the Klockner KHS Inc. property between Ellis Street and the harbor seawall. The deadline for proposals is Feb. 12. .
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press Gazette: New fire museum boosts Kewaunee harbor project