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UPDATE: Sturgeon Bay housing development clears major hurdle, historic softball field at risk

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STURGEON BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – A major hurdle has been cleared regarding the proposal for an affordable housing development in Sturgeon Bay.

Alderperson Kelly Avenson tells Local 5 Sturgeon Bay city council has passed the planned unit development ordinance.

Also passed at the city council was the recommendation from purchasing and finance to accept the offer to purchase the land in question.

In August, Local 5 reported on a story about the community fighting to save a historic softball field at the proposed site of the development (full story below).

Avenson says the approval by city council gives the developer what it needs in order to move forward with applying for tax credits with the state.

If the state denies the tax credits, Avenson says the development will not move forward.

Local 5 will continue to follow this story for updates.

Sturgeon Bay community fights to save historic softball field

ORIGINAL STORY: August 23, 2019

Woody Wodack says Sturgeon Bay’s West Side Field is more than just bases and bleachers.

“Many generations have played at this field,” he said. “There’s no field quite like it, and in my opinion, it’s not replaceable.”

But plans for an affordable housing development could mean Sturgeon Bay’s softballers will have to find a new place to play.

“What we have is two properties that are regarded in the community as historic right next to each other,” Sturgeon Bay Mayor David Ward explained, “and for this project to fly, we have to take part of the softball field.”

The City’s Common Council voted 5-2 Tuesday to approve plans for an Oshkosh developer to purchase the historic West Side School and convert it into ten housing units.

Those units would be available for rent at market value.

The plan also calls for 30 additional units to be built in the lot adjacent to the school, which currently houses the West Side Field.

The 30 additional units would be classified as affordable housing, which Mayor Ward says the city is in desperate need of.

“Our industrial park is really booming,” he said. “They get people to come to Sturgeon Bay for the job, but then they have difficulty or they can’t find housing, and oftentimes if they can’t find housing, they don’t take the job.”

Fans of the field say that housing units should be built elsewhere and that they will continue to fight for the field.

“I want to see my grandchildren play here,” Wodack said.

Final plans for the housing development will need to be approved next Spring. If those plans are approved, construction could begin as early as Fall 2020.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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