Gov. Evers hires firm to redesign Potawatomi Tower, GOP lawmakers criticize the move
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Governor Tony Evers announced his commitment to restoring the historic Potawatomi Tower in Door County Monday.
The governor unveiled the state picked a construction firm from Milwaukee to put together two design plans for the tower. The plans involve either restoring the tower or building a new one that maintains its historical character.
“Personally I’m not getting behind any specific proposal, I just want to get this done,” Evers said.
The tower has been closed since 2018 and at one point was set to be torn down.
Governor Evers says he would fund the project in his 2023-2025 capital budget but that would only happen if he’s reelected this November.
“We can complain about the past and the republican, democrats arguments. Bottom line is what we’re saying today is it’s going to get done. It’s going to get done the right way and it’s going to be in the budget,” Evers continued.
Republican lawmakers, including Rep. Joel Kitchens, called it a political move and expressed concern over the price tag.
“What I am afraid is going to happen is there going to come up with a very large price tag. Similar to the tower at Peninsula Park. And then it could be put in the budget. But it won’t stay in the budget and nothing will happen,” Kitchens, (R) Sturgeon Bay, said.
While Republicans just want the tower restored, Department of Natural Resources Secretary Preston Cole said he wants the new tower to be wheelchair accessible. A wheelchair accessible tower would be similar to the Eagle Tower at Peninsula State Park.
“Hopefully you can see the value and importance the department places on inclusivity in our parks, natural areas, and our fisheries, locations, and facilities,” Cole commented.
There will be public input on both design plans, but Evers did not specify when.
Below is a statement from State Senator André Jacque, (R) De Pere, regarding the tower.
“The Governor could have greenlit an effective and relatively inexpensive repair today to instantly give peace of mind to Wisconsinites that the tower would be preserved for decades to come. Instead there is disappointment that the Governor has doubled down on a strategy that leaves demolition of the historically significant structure squarely on the table, and most likely at the center of the administration’s plans, given their past statements- dealing a huge blow to local tourism as well,” Sen. Jacque said. “There is absolutely nothing new in the Governor’s words today. This was just more of the same stall and blame to get past the election and avoid doing a historical preservation project that the Evers administration has demonstrated time and time again that it has no interest in doing.”
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