Board rejects proposal to withdraw from collaboration but seeks assessment changes
Town of Grafton officials made it clear last week that they have serious concerns about partnering with the Village of Grafton to reconstruct Falls Road.
Although the Town Board rejected a proposal to withdraw from a collaborative effort and upgrade the road as a town project, members said they need further concessions from the village before finalizing an agreement.
During the board’s Oct. 8 meeting, Supr. Tom Grabow made a motion to forego working with the village and reconstruct Falls Road as a rural road, without curbs, gutters and sidewalks.
Grabow said the village’s plan for an urbanized upgrade — including widening the road, laying sewer and water mains, installing a bike lane, adding a sidewalk to the south side of the road and repaving — would result in unwarranted special assessments to adjoining property owners if their land is annexed into the village.
“We don’t want town residents assessed,” Grabow said.
The village’s share of the $1.1 million project calls for 18 deferred assessments to help pay for the upgrades. Seventeen of the assessments for curbs, gutters and sidewalks range from $1,097 to $18,852, based on road frontage. The largest assessment is $4,276 for the John Norman farm, which has 1,331 feet of frontage.
In his motion, Grabow proposed the town rework Falls Road from the village limits to Port Washington Road, including an extended lane for the bike path that would be built after the village installed sewer and water mains. The town has estimated the cost of a rural upgrade at $218,000.
Supr. Karron Stockwell seconded Grabow’s motion, saying she was frustrated with the village’s unwillingness to address town concerns, particularly the assessments.
“Do we think it’s fair for those owners to have future assessments on their properties?” Stockwell asked. “This is about everything that’s being done without us.”
However, Town Chairman Lester Bartel urged the board not to abandon working with the village and hold another joint meeting as soon as possible. The last such meeting was held July 29.
“I don’t see how this benefits the town,” Bartel said of Grabow’s proposal. “It damages our relationship with the village.”
Bartel suggested that by continuing to negotiate with the village, the town “can put some safeguards into an agreement.”
During a vote of the five-member board, Grabow and Stockwell supported the motion, but it failed with three nay votes from Bartel and supervisors Steve Schaefer and Tom Sykora.
“We’ve come a long way in negotiations,” Schaefer said.
Sykora concurred, noting the village had pared project costs and associated assessments since the project was first proposed several years ago.
“I don’t have a problem with Tom’s motion, but I want to meet with the village one more time,” Sykora said.
Village Administrator Darrell Hofland said village officials remain optimistic that a project agreement can be finalized in the next few months. Urbanized upgrades for Falls Road are included in the village’s proposed 2015 budget, he noted.
“The village has significantly compromised its original design for the project to address the concerns of the Town Board and remains willing to work with the town,” Hofland said.
The village’s goal, Hofland said, is to finalize an agreement this fall so bids can be secured this winter for the sewer and water work, which is scheduled for late spring 2015. Roadwork would then be done in the fall, followed by a final resurfacing in spring 2016.
“The village is looking to hold another joint meeting to discuss all concerns,” Hofland said
“As a result of those discussions, the overall project cost could decrease.”