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Shullsburg discuss Opera House nuisance

SHULLSBURG – Mayor Emmet Reilly called the first City of Shullsburg meeting of the new year to order on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021 at 6:30 p.m.

Dan Morrissey and Jeff Doyle representing Advance Shullsburg were present to ask the council to do something about a property at 148 W. River Street known as the Opera House.

Morrissey said, “Something has got to get done with it. That building has been sitting there thirty years with nothing getting done to it. I’ve tried to buy it a couple times, personally. After the Wheel In got sold to Dollar General, we don’t have anywhere to have a wedding reception event. We at Advance Shullsburg would like to take that project on. We could write grants but we need you to acquire the property.”

Morrissey continued, “That building doesn’t bring anything to this community, just a minimum of property tax and utility charges. Shullsburg has come too far - not to have something done with that building. We’ve had plenty of past councils try to do something with that building. At some point in time, we got to say this is over. It’s not right. If the city can write an ordinance saying you can’t have storage in a downtown building - that thing is a 5,000 square foot storage shed.”

Conversation regarding all the stuff that is packed into the upstairs and downstairs of the building took place.

Alder Verne Jackson said, “When you’re taking eminent domain - that really scares people. That’s a sticking point for many people, just taking someone’s property away.”

Alder Jason Weiskircher asked, “What is your plan?”

Morrissey answered, “I want you guys to do what every other city does in the state. You can put a raze order on it and you make him fix the  issues the building has. But you start with an ordinance that says no storage sheds in the downtown area. It’s in the historic district of Shullsburg. It’s not their livelihood or home.”

Weiskircher said, “I’m not going to disagree that something needs to be done. I am going to disagree that this body has the power to put this in play. You have made a generous offer and he refused. He denied the offer and after that you don’t go the council and say - take that property, because I offered him a reasonable number.”

Morrissey said, “You’re missing the point. We’re talking about our hometown business district.”

More conversation was had.

Reilly complemented  Morrissey and Weiskircher for expressing there points and wanted to move on.

Jeff Doyle added, “Are there ordinance on the books that the building is not abiding by?”

Swenson said, “Well if you got up on that second floor and saw it was a fire hazard.”

Doyle said, “It’s definitely a fire hazard, there are tires and gas cans in there.”

Reilly loudly ended the discussion.


At the council’s Dec. 16 meeting, the council approved paying a one-time $500 covid-19 stipend for employees covered under the teamsters local 695 bargaining unit. The action came after closed session. Since that meeting Reilly vetoed the approval of the stipend in writing.

At this meeting an item to override the mayor’s veto was on the agenda.

Jackson spoke first, “I am supportive of it, but I’m not going to follow through with it. It could cause some confrontations. My goal is to support our essential workers we have in the city. So I am going to make a motion that we do not override the mayor’s veto.”

Alder Gloria Swenson said, “I’ll second that, I don’t want to go through with that either.”

Voice vote was asked for and the motion was approved. 3-0 with Weiskircher abstaining.

In committee:

•Park – a meeting will be held next week to discuss the bathrooms on the east side of the park.

•Police - a meeting will be held next week and discuss snowmobiling.

In other business:

•Approved bills in the amount of $000.

•Decided not to open the Townsend Center at this time, but things seem to be getting better.

•Approved a use of facility agreement with the SUN Program.

•Approved  payment to the Shullsburg Fire District annual assessment in the amount of $000

•Approved payment to the Shullsburg Ambulance annual assessment in the amount of $000

•Discussed a request from the Sun Program for a new commercial dishwasher for the Senior Center. No amount was requested, but SUN received a donation from Clare Bank in the amount of $5,000 and a high temp commercial dishwasher roughly cost $8,000.