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Residents, city clash over Port sidewalk plan PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 13 December 2017 18:57

Homeowners say walkways aren’t needed, wanted in north bluff area, but policy is to install them when streets redone

    The overwhelming majority of those attending Tuesday’s public information meeting regarding street projects slated for next year in Port Washington had one message for the city — don’t add sidewalks to our streets.
    Most of the residents live in the north bluff area near Upper Lake Park, and they told officials that sidewalks are not needed in their neighborhoods.
    There isn’t enough traffic to justify the walkways, they said, adding that since not all streets in the area have sidewalks, the new walks wouldn’t necessarily connect, making them inefficient and unnecessary.
    Sidewalk is also costly and difficult to maintain, especially for senior citizens, they said, and it would take away from the look and appeal of their neighborhood.
    “A lot of us purchased there because it didn’t have sidewalk,” Diane Burkhalter, 409 Briarwood La., said. “We wanted a non-city look. When we purchased our house, we looked for that. Sidewalks aren’t a country thing.
    “And it goes nowhere. A sidewalk that goes nowhere — dumb.
    “Are any of us for sidewalks? There’s not one of us.”
    Anne Davis, 920 Crestview, said, “I don’t want to pay for them. I feel my street’s quiet enough I don’t need them. I’m concerned about what it’s going to take away from my front yard.
    “And I do understand zoning requirements, that things have changed since our house was built in the late 1970s.”
    Aurie Cosentine, 518 Brentwood Ct., noted that when she and her husband purchased their house more than 40 years ago, it was “with the idea it wouldn’t be developed that way (with sidewalks).
    “We don’t see the purpose of it,” she said.
    While the vast majority of the roughly 40 people attending the two-hour open house opposed adding sidewalks, there were a few exceptions.
    “I want a sidewalk from my house down to the park,” said Lori MacRae, 238 Hales Trail. “When I walk my dog, I’d like to walk on a sidewalk.
    “It is a cost, and a pain in winter. I understand why they object, but I want sidewalk.”
    Abby and Eric Kirchen, 337 Whitefish Rd., also said they want the city to install sidewalk in the area.
    “I don’t really like walking in the road with a toddler and a stroller,” Mr. Kirchen said.
    “I hate that,” his wife added. “I get  that there’s an initial cost and the maintenance, but I feel I get every bit of that out of the sidewalk.”
    She advocated the city extend the sidewalk beyond the construction zone to Upper Lake Park, saying, “That park is awesome.”
    Tuesday’s meeting was intended to not only get residents’ feeling on sidewalks but on the road projects in general, including the fact many of the streets will be narrowed.
    But the topic that captured most people’s attention was sidewalks.
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said the preliminary plans for the streets include sidewalks because the city’s policies and codes call for the walkways to be installed wherever streets are being rebuilt.
    Where streets are merely being resurfaced, sidewalks aren’t called for because the curb and gutter isn’t being disturbed.
    Residents are charged for sidewalk when it is installed, but after that the city will pay to repair it, he said.
    Sidewalks, he said, are important for numerous reasons, including the fact they provide a safe place for pedestrians, create a sense of community and add value to property. They are an amenity many people seek out when buying a home, he added.        “Near schools, where kids have to walk, yes, I see it,” Larry Boothby, 819 Noridge Tr., said. “I can count on one hand the amount of traffic that goes by my house every day — the trash man, the mailman, and a few people heading home. When there’s almost no vehicular traffic, I don’t see a purpose for it.”
    Julian Rogers, 1121 Crestview, said the cost and maintenance of sidewalks would be difficult for elderly people like himself.
    “People like me, you put in sidewalk, you’re giving me more work to do in winter,” the 86-year-old said. “This is going to make my life more difficult. I can’t risk falling (when clearing sidewalks).
    “In my neighborhood, I don’t see why we need sidewalks, irrespective of city codes.”
    Rogers also questioned why the city would install sidewalks and charge residents for the work at the same time it’s considering a wheel tax.
    The wheel tax would not pay for sidewalk installation, Vanden Noven said, but for street work.
    Ald. John Sigwart asked one man if he would be willing to pay for a pedestrian lane instead of sidewalks, but added that he believes the walkways are important.
    “I think there should be sidewalks throughout the city — on one side of the street,” he said.
    Sidewalks were installed on both sides of Theis Lane, where he lives, several years ago, Sigwart said, noting residents there opposed having walkways on both sides of the street. Now, he added, people are beginning to use them.
    The design for the 2018 street projects will be discussed by the Board of Public Works when it meets at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 19. The matter will also be on the agenda for the Common Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. that night.
    The street projects include work on:
    n Crestview Drive from Noridge Trail to Briarwood Lane.
    n Brentwood Court from Crestview Drive to the cul de sac.
    n Noridge Trail from Sunrise Drive to the south end.
    n Whitefish Road from Lakeview Avenue south to Lakeview Avenue north.
    n Hales Trail from Whitefish Road to Kaiser Drive.
    n Lakeview Avenue from Douglas Street to Whitefish Road.
    The projects include sanitary sewer lining, storm sewer improvements, water main replacement and reconstruction work.

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