Appleton reverses again, denies exhibition center funding

Appleton’s council voted a third time Wednesday on funding for a $25,000 consultant to help with legal aspects of a new exhibition center downtown — this time the money is gone for good.exhibition

A private group wants to build the $25 million facility downtown and Alderman Jeff Jirschele authored a plan to have an outside expert look out for Appleton’s interests in the yet-to-be-signed long-term lease agreement. The plan had support from both Mayor Tim Hanna and Karen Harkness, the city’s director of community and economic development.

Wednesday’s vote, however, was a budget amendment so it required two-thirds of the 15-person council. The 8-6 vote dropped the measure. Those voting against were: Alders Patti Coenen, Greg Dannecker, Sarah Garb, Kole Oswald, Kathy Plank and Cathy Spears.

The council voted 9-6 two weeks ago to approve the funding. But that was prompted by a deadlocked 6-6 vote two weeks earlier due to light attendance.

“I wasn’t surprised by the vote. Disappointed, concerned, but not surprised,” Harkness said Wednesday. “It’s paramount that the lease is negotiated to protect the broader community’s interests.”

City leadership maintains that they want to see a final lease agreement between the Radisson Paper Valley Hotel and Fox Cities Exhibition Center, Inc. before releasing a $3.4 taxpayer investment.

Read more about what the future holds for the facility in Sunday’s City Notes column.

— Nick Penzenstadler: 920-996-7226, or; on Twitter @npenzenstadler

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