Janesville council to vote on Monterey Dam removal as resident o - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Janesville council to vote on Monterey Dam removal as resident offers donation to keep it

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JANESVILLE (WKOW) -- Janesville's City Council will decide next week whether to remove a piece of history from the Rock River, but one Janesville man is offering to help save it. 

The Department of Natural Resources has told the city the Monterey Dam has got to go or be repaired. , It was built nearly 170 years ago to power local mills. A committee that's looked at studies and taken public comment has recommended removal, but some in the community don't want to see it go. 

Gary Schultz sees Janesville's past in the dam and doesn't want to see the river change if it's removed. He's heard it could reduce down to half its size, leaving muddy banks along the riverfront. This month, he told the council he'll give the city $200-thousand to help pay to fix or replace the dam.

"[The city's] got a tendency to tear things down that are structural history," Schultz tells 27 News. "We should preserve it, build on top of it, and take care of it."

Schultz, who spent 35 years as a private contractor repairing sidewalks in the city, wants to give back to his community as he turns 80 this year. He says he'd like to see a brand-new dam that can last several hundred more years. 

"Everything I hear is positive, not one person wants it out, not one, except the city," he says. 

The city estimates it would cost about $700-thousand to repair the dam and $1.1 million to remove it. If the council opts to get rid of the dam, the city could apply for a $400-thousand DNR grant to cut costs.

Council President Sam Liebert says Schultz's donation is very generous, but he's still torn about how to vote on the removal recommendation.

"It doesn't currently serve any sort of purpose. It's not providing power, it's not powering mills to create textiles or anything like that, but it is an historic landmark to some people," he says.

He also wonders whether the money could serve a better use in the community, like funding service organizations.

But Schultz can't see Janesville without the Monterey Dam and he hopes it can become his legacy.

"They just kept me busy all the time and I want to give it back, I thought why not," he says.

The public is invited to a meeting Monday, March 27 at 6 p.m. at the city offices, where the council will take comment and vote on the recommendation. Click here for more information and studies on the Monterey Dam.  

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