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Council Routes Tess Corners Drive Path Back to Committee

Residents weigh in against recreational path, citing safety concerns during the meeting, but others have also registered support. Despite a potential delay in construction and additional costs for redesigns, the council votes to defer approval and sends p

A bike path and recreational trail that was planned to be a part of hit a roadblock Tuesday night as many residents spoke against it during the Common Council meeting. After subsequent discussion on the council, the plan was deferred to the Public Works Committee for further review.

Neighbors cited the loss of trees, traffic concerns, diminishing property values and flooding and runoff issues as reasons to kill the path.

Judith Stenzel, who lives in the area, told the Common Council in a public input session, "our land will be interrupted; traffic is already a concern, and the addition of a bike path will lead to more traffic." She also said she could forsee future lawsuits stemming from any accidents that occur, and said it was an "unfair situation to have our land taken away."

"I can't envision the merits of cutting these trees down," said Ron Lawler, who lives in the area as well. "I don't see how it improves safety. As I see the depth of these ditches (along the route), we're putting these paths right on the edge of them, which doesn't make it any safer."

Resident Diane Stern called the plan "too expensive, and a misuse of taxpayer dollars," as well as echoing concerns over speeding traffic, especially concerning Tess Corners Fire Department vehicles. (The fire department is also located on the road.)

However, there were a couple of residents who came out to support the rec path.

"I'm so excited for this path going in - you would be amazed at how much they are used. However, they are scattered and aren't connected," said Linda Johnson. "As long as Tess Corners Drive is being constructed, it makes sense to put it in. We have to look at the greater good of the community."

Rob Glazier, resident and member of the Community Development Authority, asked the council about the future impact of killing the path. "If we're to halt this path, we have a larger plan in place for rec paths, so I would like to know if this would affect those other plans as well."

During council discussion, Alderman Kert Harenda wondered if the five-year plan from the Parks and Recreation Department should be revisited in its entirety to avoid further conflicts every time projects like this are proposed. Although an informational meeting was held on the project and the public had an opportunity to review the plans in December 2011, he thought there was room for improvement.

"We could improve on the communication when we are developing these plans, so people don't feel like they aren't getting informed," he said. However, he also reminded residents that they needed to be open to compromise and realize that the areas where trees will be taken out are part of the right of way.

"Plans are guidelines," agreed Alderman Rob Wolfe, who is a new alderman in the 1st District where the project is located. "They should be able to be changed, especially if people have concerns."

Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti pointed out that 82 residents from which is in the same area, had expressed their support during a meeting she attended there. An additional 30 emails from other residents were also received by Dave Simpson, city engineer, in favor of the project.

Simpson also explained that off road construction of the path is only $81,000 versus $250,000 for a path that would be an extended shoulder of the roadway. The difference in cost comes in because of subsoil issues in the road that require deeper digging (3-4 feet) in the roadway. Off-road paths would not require such excavation, he explained.

There is already $80,000 invested in the project, and further delay in making a decision, or moving the path on-road, could push the entire road project into the next year. For the most part the council agreed that changes now would cost more money, but some felt that it was more important to avoid repeated debate.

"I guess I'd rather spend the extra money if it helps to address the concerns of everyone," said Alderman Dan Soltysiak. "I'd rather get it right and review all of the alternatives."

Alderman Neil Borgman said while he was sympathetic to the concerns over the loss of old trees, he reminded them that the trees were in the city's right of way. He stated he was in favor of the plan, and that "it seems that people are accepting of these plans until they see the flags go up in front of their homes and see just how much property is in the city's right of way."

A motion to amend the plan to move the path on-road and delay road construction to 2013 was defeated 4-2 (Wolfe and Harenda voting yes). However, another motion from Soltysiak was made to defer the matter back to the Public Works Committee to explore alternate designs resulted in a tie vote.

With Alderman Neome Schaumberg absent, it was up to Chiaverotti to break the tie, and she voted along with Soltysiak, Harenda and Wolfe and to defer the matter.

"There are times where you have to be a leader, and I feel that as Alderman Wolfe is new to the council and has just had this issue put before him, that I will follow his lead and vote to defer this," she said.

CarolinaGirl73 April 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM
This is absolutely enraging. Our family has been waiting for this trail since we moved in. We, unfortunately, voted for Mr. Wolfe and are sadly disappointed in his interest in making this an on-road trail and deferring because "several" people showed up at the meeting. This seems to be another case of a few loud people getting their way.
CarolinaGirl73 April 25, 2012 at 12:44 PM
A few points: 1. One of the opponents stated she could see future lawsuites because of this. Should we then do away with all trails and public parks for fear of being sued? 2. Another opponent stated that on off road trail would be dangerous. So an on-road trail would be less so? 3. The property being used is the cities- not yours. You knew this when you purchased your home. 4. Rob Wolf was elected mostly for the reason that he didn't want to spend money on the lake park, but he is willing to spend $250k for a on-road trail v/s $80k for an off-road trail? 5. How in the world is a trail going to cause more traffic? Personally, we'll walk more places like Kohl's and DQ because we'll be able to. 6. I'd like to know how many "several" people showed up at the meeting against this versus the 30 e-mails Mr. Simpson got for it. Plus, in the Patches own "non-scientific" poll, the majority of people were for keeping the trail as is. 7. We are also saddened by the lose of trees. However, we'll plant more. It is my opinion that these people don't want the trail and are fishing for reasons to make it stop. This city has been making some extremely poor planning choices as of late. Outdoor recreational facilities bring tax paying citizens to cities. You must invest to bring in more tax dollars. People wonder why families aren't moving here and the number of families in the city has plummeted? It's decisions like these that are causing it.
Muskego Mike April 25, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Good comments...
Denise Konkol (Editor) April 25, 2012 at 03:21 PM
We didn't use 'several' in our description, but most who attended Tuesday night and who chose to speak were opposed. However, the point was made that there is an equal interest in supporting the trail. Off road trails would minimize tree damage, which is why that would be an alternative suggestion, but as a biker that would make me cringe.
Rob Glazier April 25, 2012 at 04:11 PM
Having experience with nearly being hit by a car that drove up on the little curb along the path on Lannon I really do not like paths on the shoulders of our busy streets. I think if safety matters you take the path off the road. It's less expensive as well.
Gregory Kluck April 25, 2012 at 08:26 PM
I believe the path should be made and be off road.
Denise Konkol (Editor) April 26, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Also, a follow up on questions we had in the last article regarding needs for paths elsewhere in Muskego. Racine Avenue and further west on Janesville, the issue gets more complicated as these are county roads, and approval to move forward on these has an added layer.
Deanna Kuhn Knasinski April 26, 2012 at 03:58 PM
I'm for it & would also like to see a path on Bay Lane for the safety of all the kids who have to walk on that busy road.
Muskego Mike April 26, 2012 at 04:12 PM
I would add Martin Drive, north of Janesville to the list of roads that need a bike trail. One has been started but never completed.
Denise Konkol (Editor) April 28, 2012 at 12:03 AM
There was also a good suggestion made about linking the overflow lot from Martin to Idle Isle, which makes sense, especially when you have a big event.
Birdwatcher May 02, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Spend the money on the Schools!! Remember 2 no votes on that!

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