Town, village officials at odds over what features should be included in rebuilt border thoroughfare
Grafton town and village officials agree that Falls Road west of Port Washington Road needs to be resurfaced, but how urbanized the road should be remains a question.
The village eventually wants the road to have curb and gutter, sidewalks and three-foot-wide paved shoulders for biking.
The town has no interest in paying for sidewalks.
Town residents who attended the July 29 joint meeting on the project said they don’t need sidewalks and don’t want to shovel, maintain or pay for them. Widening the road will adversely affect them and cause steep driveways for some, residents said.
But residents in the Falls Crossing subdivision in the village said they were promised sidewalks and want a safe way to walk to other parts of the village. The subdivision abuts 70 acres of undeveloped land owned by Blue Stem Acquisition LLC, which is also in the village and plans to build a subdivision, Grafton Administrator Darrell Hofland said.
“There weren’t many who attended the meeting, but those who were there were vocal in what they wanted,” Hofland said.
Village officials expect the undeveloped land on both sides to eventually become subdivisions and annexed to the village, which means more people walking and biking along the road, he said.
The road work is scheduled to begin next spring with the installation of utilities and a binder coat. Final resurfacing will be done in 2016.
The town proposed resurfacing the road with a three-foot-wide shoulder, with two feet paved and one foot of gravel, but no sidewalks, curb or gutter. That design was estimated to cost $218,000.
The village’s engineer estimated it would cost $492,000 to widen the road to add three-foot-wide paved shoulders. Sidewalks would cost an additional $110,000, Hofland said, and installing curb and gutter and a storm water system would cost $108,000, which the village would pay.
At the meeting, various options for paying for sidewalks were discussed, including the village paying the cost and assessing town residents for the work when or if they are annexed to the village, possibly setting a maximum cap on the assessment, Hofland said. There was also a suggestion the village clear and maintain the walks.
Village President Jim Brunnquell said he was pleased with the meeting and expects an agreement to be reached soon.
“I think the town and village agreed it will not be fully urbanized, but it will be similar to how we worked together on Cedar Creek Road, more of a blending approach,” Brunnquell said.
He doesn’t expect sidewalks to be installed initially.
“To be honest, I don’t think the town is against sidewalks, but they don’t want to pay for them,” he said.
“Now, we have all our cards on the table, what is each’s priorities. I think it’s important that we have safe bike lanes on both sides of the road. We’re talking only one foot extra (of pavement).
“We have to put it down on paper. We may take a couple swings at this, but we both want to do this. The town and village have a good relationship. It’s very rare that we can’t reach a compromise.”
Town Chairman Lester Bartel agreed.
“We’re going to work it out, but it’s a difficult situation on both sides,” he said. “Most of that road is town road and the town obviously builds roads that are different than most in the village.
“They have a plan they want, but we just don’t have the money to do that. We can pay only what it would cost to build it as a town road. We want to get that road fixed because it’s a major thoroughfare.
The village was asked to present a proposal to the town that includes the road design, costs for each municipality and assessments for each property owner if sidewalks are installed. Hofland expects town and village officials to meet again in early September.
In the meantime, at its Wednesday, Aug. 13, meeting, town officials will discuss holding a referendum to exceed the state-imposed levy limit by $100,000 to repair town roads.
The current budget for reconstructing and paving roads is $180,000, which hasn’t changed in 12 years, he said. The town has 42 miles of roads to maintain.