The city of Peshtigo wants to build a fish viewing walkway above concrete pylons in the Peshtigo River. The project, in conjunction with BPM Inc., would consist of about a 75-foot, handicapped accessible platform. Area residents and visitors could watch sturgeon and walleye spawning on the rocks below during the spring. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
The city of Peshtigo wants to build a fish viewing walkway above concrete pylons in the Peshtigo River. The project, in conjunction with BPM Inc., would consist of about a 75-foot, handicapped accessible platform. Area residents and visitors could watch sturgeon and walleye spawning on the rocks below during the spring. EagleHerald/Rick Gebhard
PESHTIGO - Five months.

That's how long Mayor Al Krizenesky has until his two-year term expires.

And because he doesn't plan to run for re-election, Krizenesky would like to see a proposed fish viewing walkway started before leaving office.

"I'm really pushing that whole thing now," Krizenesky said. "I'm not going to finish it, but I'm going to start it."

In fact, he's solicited letters of support from Marinette Marine Corp. and Tyco Fire Products.

"These are big outfits that have trouble getting the best help to live in this area because we don't have the housing, recreation or shopping that the big cities have," Krizenesky said.

He believes a fish viewing walkway could help change that.

The project, in conjunction with BPM Inc., would consist of building about a 75-foot, handicapped accessible platform above concrete pylons in the Peshtigo River. Area residents and visitors could watch sturgeon and walleye spawning on the rocks below during the spring. They could also view salmon and suckers. Eagles are also seen flying over the area. The fish viewing walkway would eventually be connected to Ellis Memorial Trail in the Peshtigo River Recreational Park south of the bridge.

Alderman Tom Gryzwa said people could enjoy the fish viewing walkway while visiting or vacationing in Peshtigo. Many people just like to come down and watch the river, he said.

"I believe it's going to be a good draw for the community because if you come down here when the walleye are running you're going to see fishermen all along the banks of the river hooking them left and right," Gryzwa said. "Last year, it was such an unbelievable run."

Besides Krizenesky's urgency to start the project, there's another deadline. Back in 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources stated in a dredging permit that BPM Inc., must remove the concrete pylons from the river to its satisfaction by Sept. 16, 2015. An exception would be if the concrete pylons are used for a public recreational walkway to be built on them, the dredging permit stated.

The concrete pylons once supported a steel-framed, enclosed structure with wood siding. Steam and stock from a pulp mill on the northeast side of the river ran through a large pipe inside the structure to the paper mill on the northwest side of the river. BPM Inc., operating under the same dredging permit from the DNR, removed the structure at the end of 2010 because it was deteriorating and no longer used.

Jim Koronkiewicz, general manager of BPM Inc., said the paper mill would rather invest in a fish viewing walkway than remove the concrete pylons. BPM Inc., is working with Wisconsin Public Service Corp., to obtain easements and right-of-ways for the city of Peshtigo to pursue constructing the fish viewing walkway. WPS has a power dam nearby and they own the property adjacent to the river that the walkway would cross, he said.

"They don't want us disturbing the river close to the dam because you could change flows (or) anything in the rock structure," Koronkiewicz said. "So we don't want to do that."

He has no idea of what the fish viewing walkway would cost or its dimensions.

"We're at the initial stages," Koronkiewicz said. "We said we would contribute financially, but until it's decided what type of walkway goes out there and what funding may be available we can't put a number on it."

The City Council voted unanimously to support the fish viewing walkway at its Nov. 5 meeting.

"I don't know if we needed that, but I wanted it," Krizenesky said about the action.
By BRIAN PAYNTER
EagleHerald staff writer


PESHTIGO - Discussion about a proposed fish viewing walkway in conjunction with BPM Inc. generated some contention during a recent City Council meeting.

Mayor Al Krizenesky had held an informational meeting about the project on Oct. 8 but didn't ask the full council to attend.

Although Parks and Recreation Director Dave Zahn was invited to the meeting, Alderperson Cathi Malke, who's also the chairperson of the Parks and Recreation Committee, was disappointed that members weren't, especially since several of them have secured grants for improvements to the park system.

"I just felt that we were shunned, that we weren't asked to participate," Malke said.

Krizenesky said it's difficult to get everyone together for a meeting when people work during the day so having Zahn and Alderman Tom Gryzwa attend was sufficient.

Others who attended the informational meeting were George Cowell, director of public works; Chuck Druckrey, resource specialist of Marinette County; Jim Koronkiewicz, general manager of BPM Inc., and Edward Brandt, supervisor for regional generation at Wisconsin Public Service Corp.

"As a courtesy, though, all council members should be notified of all meetings," Gryzwa said.

Malke said she received a notice about the meeting in her mailbox but became upset after Krizenesky told her the public was invited.

Krizenesky said he was just pushing to get the meeting done because the project had been idle for awhile.

Alderman Michael Behnke recommended that Krizenesky consider open meeting law violations in the future so the council doesn't get into trouble.

Krizenesky said he thought he was doing the proper thing by having one alderman (Gryzwa) present.

Malke added that the proposed fish viewing walkway will be a wonderful project and an asset to the city.