GREEN BAY, Wis. (NBC 26) — Towers of coal have lined part of the downtown Green Bay riverfront for decades.
"We don't want this kind of nuisance in our downtown core adjacent to our neighborhoods any longer," Mayor Eric Genrich said.
Now, a lump sum of cash may move those piles to a different location.
"This isn't just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Genrich said. "It is truly a once-in-a-city's lifetime opportunity."
Governor Tony Evers (D) visited Northeast Wisconsin on Thursday to announce a $15 million grant to help relocate the coal away from the Mason Street Bridge area.
"This is a project I know the folks here in Green Bay, Brown County have been working on for awhile now," Evers said during a press conference at the Green Bay Water Utility.
Genrich says the goal is to convince the C. Reiss Company, which owns the coal, to swap locations to the old Pulliam Power Plant at the mouth of the river just a few miles north of the piles.
As for the current coal pile location...
"We have talked about carving off at least the northernmost ten acres for mixed-use, downtown-style development with access obviously to the river," Genrich said.
Brown County has committed to buy the Pulliam site with intentions to trade it for C. Reiss' 35 riverfront acres.
"Our plan, in collaboration with the county, is to make possible for light industrial, non-nuisance economic development to occur with that southern two-thirds of the property," Genrich said.
Still, the mayor says it's up to the city to reach a deal with the coal company.
"We are obviously in the next phases of the discussions with the C. Reiss Coal Company," Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach said. "And ultimately, in order for us to even have this conversation, we needed to be able to do the build out."
Even if a deal isn't done, Streckenbach reports the Pulliam Plant land is prepped for heavy duty work and other industry.
"These dollars are not just benefiting Greater Green Bay or Brown County," he said. "This is actually benefiting the whole region."
State Senator Eric Wimberger (R), who has advocated to move the coal, released a statement supporting Evers' grant.
According to Streckenbach, much of the $15 million (funded by the American Rescue Plan Act) will be used for a rip rap, or layers of rock for erosion prevention, at the current C. Reiss location.