Citizens offer 'crucial feedback' for Brillion's needs

September 15, 2022


By David Nordby

The Brillion News


A more in-depth version of this story appears in the September 15, 2022 print edition of The Brillion News.

Tom Leighton, a senior urban planner with Stantec, speaks during a town hall in Brillion at City Center on Monday, Sept. 12, 2022. (David Nordby/BN)

BRILLION – There is a lot going on in Brillion with a lot of changes on the horizon.


To help create a clearer picture of the city’s future, on Monday, two urban planners from Stantec, Tom Leighton and Lauren Walburg, traveled from Minneapolis to Brillion to gather community input as they work with the city and the Brillion Works LLC to redevelop the former Brillion Iron Works site.


“Any community has to continue to think about reinventing itself, making itself attractive, what would it take to retain your youth, what would it take to attract new businesses, new families to live there, and so there’s a convergence, I think, in Brillion, a real desire to keep growing and developing and becoming the community you continue to want to be even while you celebrate your identity,” Leighton said.


Even with positive momentum in the city, the financial situation continues to need an overhaul. City leaders believe the way into a better financial future is by growing the city’s population to 5,000 while maintaining the same identity Brillion has always had.


“Our goal is to attract and retain people in Brillion … Our goal is to continue to have new residents move to Brillion, all of it in the effort to continue to grow the population to 5,000,” Ariens Company Vice President, Business Development Tammy Williams said.


Ariens Company and the city have worked together to redevelop the former Brillion Iron Works properties after the foundry closed in 2016 under the new Brillion Works LLC name.


Williams has worked with city groups to create a city website – experiencebrillion.org – and to help start the Home GROW’n Brillion to encourage citizens to take part in community projects.


Efforts to enhance and grow Brillion include a lot of people, including people who aren’t always speaking at public meetings like Calumet County Community Economic Development Director Mary Kohrell.


“I’ve been working to keep people interested,” Kohrell said.


All of it fits into creating excitement for Brillion and new business development, which was one of the two main areas that Stantec representatives sought feedback from community members on Monday night along with Brillion’s housing needs.


“We have to get public input in order to be able to move forward with our process,” Walburg told the newspaper. “Obviously, there are things that the market’s going to support but there’s also things that we’re going to hear from the public that we wouldn’t have even thought about. It’s so important for moving forward to the next step … They know Brillion. They know the site better than we do.”


Stantec first became involved with the project in Brillion when they helped the city receive a grant through the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Brownfields Program, which provides grants and assistance to safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties.


Community members who offered feedback for housing needs listed:

· Housing that is not income restricted

· Townhomes and condos

· Higher end homes

· Condos for those 55 and older

· $200,000+ housing (with the suggestion of extending the TID to make it happen)

· Additional senior rental duplexes

· Housing for workforce

· Single family and younger family homes.


Ideas for business development included:

· Family restaurant with longer hours

· Greater variety of retail stores

· Grocery store

· Children’s museum

· Outdoor music stage/venue

· Business incubator for startups

· YMCA

· Bistros/high end restaurants/outdoor cafes

· Golf course

· Brewery with a patio space (which was all but officially confirmed during discussions).


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