MARINETTE — The Marinette City Council on Tuesday discussed the possibility of helping to fund public art projects throughout the city, including proposed statuary, benches and murals from local artists and business leaders. 

Mayor Steve Genisot explained that his office had been approached by Jim LaMalfa, professor emeritus of UW-Marinette, about funds for an art piece near the entrance to Fincantieri Marinette Marine that LaMalfa has been working on for some time. 

“We’re looking at possibly funding the rest of that project along with a request to fund a new initiative that Ms. Kim Brooks is bringing out as far as some public art on some benches, primarily to start in the downtown area, and that could continue throughout the rest of Marinette and then into Menominee as well,” Genisot said. 

Brooks and her husband, Rusty Wolfe, own and operate the Main Street Antique Mall in Marinette. Wolfe also maintains an art gallery above the antique mall, and the two have been involved in several beautification projects around the community, including the recent Trout ‘n About project. 

Genisot said that Brooks planned to attend the next Board of Public Works meeting to discuss the possibility of the city funding a few benches to kick off the project. 

“We’d like to consider this and help with some of the initiatives that some of these groups that have done the flower pots in the community and the fish sculptures,” Genisot said, and added that part of the discussion would be looking at methods of funding the projects. The city would need to come up with just shy of $7,000 to sponsor LaMalfa’s sculpture, and $1,500 each for two to three benches. According to Genisot, the city is also looking at possible donations for the projects from Wisconsin Public Service, Fincantieri Marinette Marine and U.S. Navy personnel. 

While the city has previously funded art projects with room tax dollars, Genisot said he would like to explore other funding options and leave room tax money for projects that “put heads in beds” at local lodging options. He suggested would be taking the money from the Community Development fund to put toward the art projects. 

“I guess I’m looking for some comments,” Genisot said. “We can still possibly vote to finish funding it this year, or at least have it earmarked for next year.” 

Ward 6 Alderman Peter Noppenberg said he would like to seek public donations for the projects. Ward 8 Alderman Jason Flatt informed the council that the Marinette Lions Club was looking at donating a bench, and suggested partnering with community service organizations to find funding and to showcase the organizations in town. 

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Ward 7 Alderman Rick Polzin. “I’d like to see a budget, how much it’s going to cost.” 

Polzin added that he would like to see building murals in town as well, possibly showcasing the city’s history. Genisot said the city had been looking for willing building owners in the downtown area to move forward with such a project. Flatt suggested City Hall be considered for a mural, on the side facing Dunlap Avenue. 

“We’ve actually had calls from Cedarburg (Wis.) recently, commenting how much they liked our pots,” Genisot said about the state of public art in the City of Marinette. 

Ward 4 Alderman Brian Walters asked that the topic of public art be approached with an overall vision in mind, “or else it just looks like a bunch of mish-mashed, random stuff around town.” Genisot said he would rely on Brooks’ forthcoming proposal to form a cohesive plan. 

The council did not take any action on the topic.