Residents in an uproar over sidewalk plan for Port

Homeowners tell officials walkways they would have to pay for aren’t needed

    Residents of Port Washington’s north bluff area took their campaign not to have sidewalks installed along their streets next year to both the Board of Public Works and Common Council.
    Sidewalks are unnecessary, won’t improve safety and will cost people money they could put to better use, the residents told officials.
    And because there aren’t sidewalks along neighboring streets, the walkways wouldn’t lead anywhere, they said.
    “We’re a bit puzzled by that,” said Pat Kuehl, 1105 Crestview Dr. “What would be the point of doing sidewalk on Crestview if you don’t do it on the other streets?”
    Tom Osowski, 1114 Crestview Dr., asked officials for a timeline so residents would know when their neighbors would also have sidewalks installed along their property.
    But Bret Hoffmann, 408 Sunrise Dr., disagreed.
    “I don’t want a timeline because I don’t want sidewalks,” he said. “I do not think it’s appropriate. I do not live in an urban environment. I do not live on a thoroughfare. It is a very sleepy area.”
    The idea of installing sidewalks whenever streets are rebuilt is “another failure of governmental policy,” Hoffmann added, especially since neighbors don’t want them.
    Dan Stacey, 925 Crestview Dr., said sidewalks would encroach on his home and allow neighbors to invade his privacy.
    The city would have to take down mature trees in the area to make room for the walkways, he said, adding, “I have a lot better things to spend $2,500 on than concrete squares on my property.”
    The neighborhood has a “country feeling, or a North Shore neighborhood feeling” that would be destroyed by sidewalks, Osowski said.
    He presented officials with a petition he took throughout his neighborhood showing that of the 28 houses affected on Crestview Drive and Brentwood Court, 22 households opposed having sidewalks installed.
    Only two households were in favor of sidewalks, he said, and one was split, with the husband and wife differing in their opinions.
    Kuehl suggested the city install streetlights instead of sidewalks.
    “How charming would that be?” she asked.
    Osowski suggested that a bike lane might be a better amenity than a sidewalk, even though he said there isn’t much pedestrian or bike traffic.
    Public Works Director Rob Vanden Noven said he has heard from several people who are in favor of sidewalks, “but they are certainly in the minority.”
    Several aldermen agreed that it would make more sense to install sidewalks that connect throughout the area, but they noted that not all the streets are being rebuilt at one time.
    “Do we do it in pieces or do you just prep the streets for sidewalks and do the neighborhood as a whole?” Ald. Mike Ehrlich asked. “I thought that is a good comment and one worth discussing.”
    No matter what, he said, the streets should be designed and built as though sidewalks were being installed to ensure they could be added in the future if they aren’t today.
    Ald. John Sigwart agreed, saying, “It seems to me when we put in sidewalks they should connect to something.”
    “It certainly can’t be ignored that it would be more beneficial if they did connect,” Vanden Noven said. “But I think sidewalks on Crestview have merit on their own.”
    And, he said, while many residents throughout the city have asked officials to install sidewalk along Holden Street connecting to Upper Lake Park, that may be more difficult if the city doesn’t install walkways elsewhere.
    “If the council were just to kick the can down the road, people on Hales Trail are going to say, ‘You didn’t put them in the surrounding neighborhood,’” Vanden Noven said.
    Gasper also suggested the city pay for the walkways because they are amenities for all residents, saying, “It may be unfair for the people who paid for sidewalk last year, but it is the public right of way.”  
    The city charges property owners for sidewalks when they are initially installed, but covers the cost of future repairs and replacement.
    For now, the design of the streets will be done with the idea that sidewalks will be installed, in accordance with city policy, Vanden Noven said.
    Aldermen can easily amend the contract for the street work to eliminate the walkway installation through mid-February, he said, although a decision could be delayed past that point.



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