Rhinelander chamber director confronts council with communication concerns
By Lori Adler
Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce Director Lauren Sackett appeared before the common council Monday voicing concerns over the lack of communication between the chamber and the council during the past year. Sackett spoke during the public comment portion of the meeting as the chamber’s monthly report has been left off the council meeting agenda for the past few months.
Sackett said, “During the last several months, issues have emerged in which the chamber and the city have seemed to be pitted against each other.
“Communication has been rare,” she said. “Some scheduled meetings have gone unattended, and most recently, our chamber report has been removed from the council’s agenda.
“Promoting the Rhinelander area as the best place to live, work and vacation is one of the primary goals of the chamber, and we feel that we can only do that role justice when we have every necessary stakeholder and agency at the table,” Sackett remarked, later noting, “To do right by our community, we must be working together.”
Sackett’s comments went on to explain that the chamber desired to create an atmosphere of collaboration and mutual cooperation with the city.
Sackett explained that during the coming weeks, the chamber board will be participating in a destination assessment task force, facilitated by the Department of Tourism. Sackett noted that she has asked both the city administrator and the mayor to represent the city on the task force. The destination assessment is designed to help the area assess possibilities, find a path to maximize its strengths and build framework for marketing and developing the Rhinelander area as a vacation destination.
“The chamber board, and I personally, don’t want to have another year of turmoil and hostility,” Sackett concluded. “The time and energy we have spent resolving these issues and being in conflict with each other could have been better spent on building new things together and focusing on where we want the community to be.”
Because Sackett presented this during the public comment portion of the meeting, council members did not respond.
Alderman Andrew Larson brought forth the anti-bullying ordinance that the council had begun to consider about a year ago but was since dropped. Larson requested that a conversation be started once again about a proposed ordinance. Other Wisconsin cities have added similar ordinances, and Larson feels Rhinelander should consider it as well.
After some continued discussion, the council then moved to have city administrator Daniel Guild organize a meeting to begin these types of discussions. The meeting participants will include those from the council as well as representatives from the police department and school district. Anyone else interested in participating are encouraged to contact Guild to be placed on an email list to receive meeting notices.
Grant for Water Filtration Reimbursement
Mayor Chris Frederickson asked for approval to move forward on developing a grant application to be submitted to the Rhinelander Community Foundation. The purpose of this grant application would be to start a water filtration reimbursement program to help city residents concerned with PFAS contamination. The idea is still being worked through, but the grant application is the first step. More information will be provided once the program is fully developed.
Assessor Open Book and Board of Review Dates
The dates for this year’s city assessor Open Book and Board of Review have been set. Open book is scheduled for Monday, April 13 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Board of review is scheduled for Monday, May 4, from 4-6 p.m. Both meetings will be held at city hall.
Those with questions regarding their property assessment can attend the open book meeting to gain a better understanding of how the property was assessed. Anyone then who feels their assessment is incorrect can attend the board of review session to dispute the assessment. Thorough research and documentation are required to dispute a property assessment. For more information on the process, contact the city clerk’s office.
City Council Candidate Forum
During the monthly report from the Rhinelander District Library, director Virginia Roberts noted that the League of Women Voters has scheduled a forum for city council candidates for districts 3, 5 and 7 on Monday, March 16, 6-8 p.m., at the library.
Stevens Street Project
Town and Country Engineering will conduct a public meeting on the final phase of the Stevens Street project. The meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, March 11 at 6 p.m. at city hall.
The planning commission is looking into possible rezoning opportunities for the city. Last fall, the commission hired Mark Roffers of MDRoffers Consulting to begin reviewing current city zoning and make recommendations for changes. These initial recommendations will be reviewed at the next planning commission meeting on Tuesday, March 3, at 6 p.m. at city hall. All planning commission meetings are open to the public.
The next meeting of the Rhinelander Common Council is scheduled for Monday, March 9, at 6 p.m. at city hall.