Janesville man offers city $200K to save Monterey Dam

Janesville man offers city $200K to save Monterey Dam

Gary Schultz has lived and worked in Janesville his entire life, and now, he’s hoping to save an historic part of the city.

He’s offering $200,000 if the city repairs the Monterey Dam.

The dam was built in 1846, and many people say it’s a defining part of Janesville.

“These dams, they were producing power for mills originally,” said Jens Jorgensen, Janesville City Council vice president. “That’s how Janesville came to be.”

In 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources found structural deficiencies while inspecting the dam . The DNR told the city it would need to repair or remove the dam. The issue has been a topic of debate since.

“I just think it’d be a crying shame to tear it out,” Schultz said. “I think we’re fighting them good enough that we’re going to save her, but every little bit helps.”

Schultz, who is nearing 80, said he earned his money working as a contractor in Janesville, which is why he now wants to give it back.

“I wanted to see some of my money put to use before I died,” he said. “Instead of willing it to somebody, I would rather give it back to the city of Janesville.

He made the announcement at the Janesville City Council meeting Monday night.

“My thoughts and a lot of the residents’ thoughts is that we hope that city staff and Mr. Schultz can work together and figure out how this would look if he did donate $200,000 toward the repair option,” Jorgensen said.

City estimates have shown removing the dam would cost around $1.1 million, but a $400,000 grant from the DNR would make the cost comparable to the $700,000 the city said it would take to repair the dam.

“It’s a very exciting opportunity for the city to look at because with that donation, we would be $200,000 less, comparing both options,” Jorgensen said.

Schultz said he’s offered to buy the dam, but officials said the city can’t sell the dam to a private person. He also wants to open the dam to show the community what would happen if the water runs free.

“We need more water downtown, definitely,” he said. “Until they see it, they ain’t gonna know it.”

Jorgensen said removing the dam would reduce the water flow.

“If the dam was removed, we would have a much shallower, narrower, smaller Rock River here in Janesville,” he said.

The Monterey Dam Citizen Advisory Committee recently said removing the dam would be the city’s best option, but Jorgensen said that came with some conditions.

“The citizen committee said they think removal is the best option if we can secure the full $400,000 grant,” he said. “And over and over again through the last few meetings, they said, ‘We want the two options to be cost neutral. If it’s the same cost for both, that’s where we think removal is the best.’ But with Mr. Schultz’s donation, this is making it no longer cost neutral.”

Schultz said he’s already had other people contact him offering to add to his donation to save the dam. A donation site has also been set up to help raise the remaining $500,000 it would take to repair the dam.

The city council is scheduled to discussing removing or repairing the dam at its 6 p.m. meeting on March 27.