Is it a park or lot?

Confusion sparks conflict discussion

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette Peggy Germain, a Calumet village trustee, looks over notes during a recent meeting of the Village Council.

CALUMET — What has come to be known in the village as Sculpture Park as far back as 2011 was a topic of debate at the February Village Council meeting.

The issue arose when Trustee Peggy Germain questioned whether council members who are on the Downtown Development Authority Board (DDA) can vote on the same items when they come to the Village Council.

She was talking about Council President Dave Geisler and Trustee Virginia Dwyer, who voted on the same issue of a pocket park on Fifth Street.

When she tried to speak, she was repeatedly interrupted by Dwyer, who insisted the property is not a park but a vacant lot.

“That’s what I’ve been saying all along,” Germain responded, “but when it comes to this council, both of you can’t have a say, because you both voted in at the DDA, which is a separate entity, so you can’t vote at that entity and come and vote at this one, because you can’t have that much more power, but the same as the rest of us.”

Geisler responded he did not believe that to be accurate, but he would consult with the village attorney Jim Tercha.

Dwyer argued the DDA can, in fact, vote on such matters, but when those matters are addressed by the Village Council, it is the council which decides to accept or reject the item, so there is no actual conflict.

“That’s the way it works, so it makes no difference,” Dwyer said.

Germain read from the second page of the DDA meeting minutes, which stated that board made an offer to the village of $5,000 for the property, located next to Bucko’s Party Store.

“They’d like to offer the village $5,000, and stabilize the…wall, attached to Bucko’s, and have us (the village) transfer ownership to the DDA, with the village contributing $2,600. Do we not respond at all? Do we just approve their minutes?”

The discussion led to some confusion over exactly what the council had voted on with regard to the park, when it was voted on in December and again in January.

After some debate, Geisler suggested tabling the vote on the matter until Tercha could be consulted.