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Port Council OKs controversial sidewalk plan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 07 February 2018 19:15

But in a compromise, city agrees not to install walks along two streets in bluff neighborhood until next year

    Port Washington aldermen on Tuesday approved a compromise plan for 2018 street improvements, agreeing to rebuild and resurface roads in the north bluff area but delay building sidewalks along two of the streets until next year.
    Aldermen agreed not to install sidewalks along Crestview Drive and Brentwood Court until 2019, when sidewalks would be built along Hales Trail and one block of Sunrise Drive — a move meant to appease residents’ concerns that walkways on Brentwood and Crestview would not connect to other sidewalks.
    While the move would seem to ensure sidewalks will be built in the area, that’s not necessarily the case. City Attorney Eric Eberhardt noted that aldermen cannot bind a future council, so the action is at best a strong recommendation to next year’s Common Council to consider.
    A crowd of residents appealed to aldermen Tuesday not to install sidewalks in their neighborhood, saying the walkways are not wanted or needed. Requiring them to pay for these walkways, they added, would be rubbing salt in the wound.
    Bret Hoffmann, 408 Sunrise Dr., said the money that would be required to pay for sidewalks would be put to better use in his 16-month-old son’s education fund.
    “We’re literally putting in sidewalks to nowhere,” he said. “I can’t take my son for a walk and end up anywhere. I doubt I can even when he’s in college.”
    Dan Stacey, 925 Crestview Dr., said he fears many mature trees will have to be felled to make room for the sidewalks.
    “I don’t want a sidewalk. I want the trees,” he said. “I don’t want a sidewalk. I want my money to stay with me.
    “We have a beautiful street, an idyllic street.”
    “The majority of the people do not want the sidewalks,” said Ross Campbell, 1012 Crestview Dr., noting front yards in the area are already small and taking up space for the walkways would destroy them.
    “The street wasn’t designed for sidewalks,” he said.
    Even if the city puts in sidewalks, people won’t use them, said Tim Osowski, 1114 Crestview, adding runners and walkers will continue to use the streets instead.
    Requiring residents to pay for the sidewalks is adding insult to injury, Osowski added.
    “The sidewalks will be for the public’s benefit, not the neighbor’s benefit,” he said. “If it’s for the public’s benefit, the public should pay.”
    At the least, Osowski said, the city should wait to install sidewalks throughout the area, since future councils may view the issue differently and not install sidewalks in nearby areas.
    “It would be a travesty to put sidewalks in now and in the future not have these other (neighboring) sidewalks put in,” he said. “It would look like a white elephant of a project.”
    Homeowners in the city are charged for the initial installation of sidewalks, but the city picks up the cost of replacement sidewalks after that.
    The Board of Public Works recommended that the city install sidewalks on Crestview and Brentwood this year and on Hales Trail and a connecting block of Sunrise next year, which would ensure the walkways would connect.
    “It does need to connect to the rest of the network,” Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said.
    Ald. John Sigwart agreed, saying, “I just don’t think we can build a sidewalk that’s isolated.”
    But Ald. Mike Gasper said he opposed installing the walkways a year after the street work is done, saying that would unnecessarily inconvenience residents.
    The city owes it to its residents to install sidewalks, Ald. Mike Ehrlich said, saying they are necessary to create a walkable community.
    “I don’t think it’s reasonable to make people walk in the street,” he said. “I think it’s extremely important to have sidewalks on Hales Trail. To make this work, I need to have a commitment from the city we will make that happen next year.”
    Ald. Dan Benning questioned why they could not do that work this year.
    That doesn’t give residents of Hales Trail a chance to see the design and have input into the plan, Ehrlich noted.
    The council considered a variety of ways to install sidewalks before voting 5-2 to move ahead with the street projects for this year but delay sidewalks on Crestview and Brentwood until next year, when walkways on Hales Trail and Sunrise can be built as well.

Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 February 2018 19:16
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