Brown Deer continues plans for North 60th Street
If village takes DOT funding, sidewalks would be added
Brown Deer — With concerns of possible property value declines and aesthetics, more than a half-dozen residents braved sub-zero temperatures Monday and weighed in on a road reconstruction project along North 60th Street.
Community Services Director Nate Piotrowski and Director Of Public Works And Village Engineer Matthew Maederer provided an update on the planned repaving of North 60th Street throughout the village. The project is slated to take place next year.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has agreed to fund 80 percent of the project cost, but it comes with a caveat.
"Their offer does come with strings attached, and that does come in the form of adding sidewalks," Maederer said.
In recent years, the DOT has ratcheted up its stipulations for road projects in which it is involved. In addition to sidewalks, the state agency has required the addition of bike lanes.
With a price tag hovering beyond $500,000, Piotrowski and Maederer asserted it would be in the village's best interest to work with the DOT and see the project through. Resurfacing the moderately traveled stretch of road has been discussed since 2000.
"The pavement is in poor condition," Maederer said. "It is classified as failing."
But a number of residents who would potentially be impacted by the changes expressed concerns with the addition of sidewalks. Because the village has some rural characteristics, including ditches, the sidewalks might encroach on front yards.
"I think this is going to decline my property values," resident Mildred Stanelle said. "I'm having difficulty seeing this as an aesthetic plus. I think it will look poor."
Robert Balmer, another property owner living along the impacted area, implored village staff to continue discussions with DOT officials and speak out against sidewalk construction.
"It seems we need to go back to the state and discuss this further," Balmer said. "I don't think this is something we should rush into."
Maederer ran through several cost scenarios for the road project. Adding sidewalks, Maederer said, increases the project cost by about 16 percent. But he also pointed out an 80-percent contribution from the state significantly lessens the village's funding burden.
As it stands, the road resurfacing and sidewalk project costs around $590,000. The state would chip in $472,000, and the village would fund the balance of $118,000.
If the village were to act independent of the state and focus solely on the road resurfacing, the project would cost about $482,000 and would have to be funded fully by the village.
Sidewalks on one side?
Several board members also shared their views on the project and where discussions stand at the moment.
Given the price tag of the work, Trustee Tim Schilz said a full allocation of financial resources on the village's part would likely mean putting some other projects on the back-burner.
"There are people in Madison telling us what we have to do," Schilz said. "They'll give us grants if we follow their ways."
Schilz echoed some of the comments raised by residents and said he also would like further dialogue with DOT officials. In the past, Schilz said he suggested a sidewalk be constructed on one side of the street in an effort to reach a happy medium between the village and state.
"We haven't been able to get a 100 percent straight answer on this," Schilz said of his proposal.
Piotrowski said design work will continue throughout 2014, and at least one additional public information meeting is slated for this upcoming year.
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