After several weeks of debate and indecision, there will be a path on Tess Corners Drive after all. A unanimous vote to amend the current plan will keep the path on the same route, but narrows it to six feet, in part to address concerns that an eight-foot path was too intrusive on some homeowners' front yards.
The Muskego Common Council had four options before them, recommended by the Public Works Committee last week:
- Leave the current trail plan as it stands
- Narrow the current trail to six feet
- Move the trail on the road as an extension of the shoulder
- Eliminate the trail altogether
The on-road option would have presented the most expensive option and delayed the project until 2013. Many of the opponents to the trail had cited the loss of older trees in front of their homes, as they rest in the city's right-of-way, and would have preferred the on-road option or elimination of the trail to save them. Narrowing the trail, the city had conceded would not have saved any trees, if at all.
Public input included supporters like Mark Oium and Matt Willer, who cited the safety of their children who would walk or ride along the road, which all agreed is busy and often traveled by motorists who exceed the posted 35 mile per hour limit.
Opponents like Chris Nelson told the council the path was "ridiculously close to our homes - it's about 30 feet from my front windows."
An empassioned Judith Stenzel also asked the council to kill the path, citing the loss of land and saying that as most who were for the path didn't live on Tess Corners Drive.
"These are selfish people who should realize there are those of us who will lose our land," Stenzel said.
The council addressed some of the concerns of the residents by asking Public Works director Dave Simpson to clarify some of the plan details.
Namely, the path appears to 'hug' the roadway over two bridges along the route, but Simpson explained that in such 'pinch zones' additional curb and gutter features will provide a barrier. He also addressed concerns over how the condition of the path will hold up in consistent flooding, which the area has been known for, by explaining that the surface of the path will withstand conditions as well as the roadway and will be laid at a three-inch thickness to extend its life.
Mayor Kathy Chiaverotti explained that she followed up on concerns over crime associated with bike paths, and said Muskego Police Chief Geiszler had no reports of any problems.
Alderman Neil Borgman had expressed confusion over why residents who saw the street as dangerous would be opposed to an offroad path, and said while sympathetic to concerns over a loss of trees, would approve the six-foot option.
Alderman Robert Wolfe, who was just elected to council in April, said he reviewed the responses he'd received over the past weeks, and found that 63 percent of the people who had contacted him were in favor of the path.
"I thought about what I had run my campaign on and while it's easy to say no to spending money, I also can't allow the minority to rule, so I will be voting in favor of it."
Alderman Keith Werner had cast the only opposing vote when the final council vote was taken on the resolution, saying the residents he had heard from didn't want the path at all.
Construction will begin on the road and the path in June.