By keeping residents posted as street plans unfold, engineering firm hopes to steer clear of past problems
Village of Saukville officials and the engineering firm Ruekert & Mielke are testing the theory that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
About a dozen village residents attended an informational meeting last week at the police station on the proposed reconstruction of Church and Center streets, as well as utility work on Highway W.
Those projects are still a year off.
Senior project manager Sean Sullivan of Reukert & Mielke moderated the session, offering maps of the intended construction zones.
He brought a three-dimensional model to illustrate the kinds of plumbing issues that are likely to be encountered as the older homes in the area are faced with the requirement to comply with current storm and sanitary sewer standards.
The session was held to head off the kind of rancor that accompanied the reconstruction of Linden Street, a west side neighborhood that is roughly of the same vintage as Church and Center streets, with many area homes built in the 1940s and 1950s.
Some of the meetings that accompanied the Linden Street work were especially contentious.
“We don’t want another hornet’s nest like we had. Your input is very important,” said Village Administrator Dawn Wagner at the outset of the meeting.
In contrast, last week’s meeting was civil, although a number of residents are already wary of several requirements that will be linked to the project.
Specifically, plans call for the installation of sidewalks on Church Street. Property owners will also be required to ensure their sump pump systems are properly connected to the storm sewer.
To minimize cost and inconvenience, sewers will be relined rather than replaced whenever possible.
Several residents said sidewalks in the already established neighborhood are unneeded and would be too costly.
Others worried that the five-foot-wide walks would take over much of their front yards, although officials noted sidewalks are placed within road rights of way which are not owned by the property owner.
Still, Sullivan said now is the time for residents to offer input on the projects.
“The plan is at the 30% level and still a little vague on details. Now is the time when your input is especially important,” he said. “If you wait until the plan is done, it will be too late.”
Sullivan said another informational meeting is planned for fall, when the designs are expected to be 60% complete.
“At that point, we should be able to tell you exactly what will happen in your yard and on your street,” he said. “We don’t want there to be any surprises.”
There will be less leeway possible when it comes to disconnecting illegal sump hookups to the sanitary sewer lines.
The goal, village officials said, is to reduce the amount of inflow and infiltration of clear water sent to the treatment plant.
The village will be responsible for bringing the new storm sewer to the property line, but the property owners will be responsible for contracting to have their lateral videotaped to prove there is not an illegal connection.
Proper connection to the storm sewer will be required even if a homeowner has never had a flooded basement.
“That sounds really expensive to me. I don’t know that I can afford that,” said one concerned resident.
Sullivan noted the revamped village ordinance has an appeal provision in cases where making an approved connection would pose a financial hardship.
Village officials determine whether a financial hardship exists.
Once design plans are finalized, bids will be solicited in December. Construction is expected to last two to three months, and will start “as soon as the ground allows us to start digging” next year.
Crews will be instructed to make sure residents have access to their homes throughout the construction process.
Mail delivery and garbage collection should not be affected, although work on water lines will likely result in a brief interruption of service — no more than a couple hours.
Sullivan said, whenever possible, the project manager will attempt to accommodate specific plans of residents.
“We want to know if you have any special plans for that time — whether you are planning to host a wedding reception or anniversary party,” he said.
“There will be issues. There will be dust and traffic issues, but the worst thing is work stoppages. If we come up with a good plan, that will be minimized.”
Sullivan distributed business cards to residents at the meeting, and invited additional input on comment sheets that can be dropped off at Village Hall.