Walkers and bikers along Fond Du Lac Avenue will someday utilize an 8-foot, multi-use asphalt path the village plans to construct. But for the time being, the path represents a line of division between residents regarding its construction.
During an informational hearing Thursday at Village Hall, it was made clear that the $800,000 trail will be constructed this year. The meeting Thursday was to solicit suggestions from residents on the path’s design.
However, it didn’t stop residents from voicing their opposition – or support – of the project. The crowd of about 50 people that attended the meeting was basically split on the project.
Surveying work and plans have multi-use asphalt trail that would run along Fond Du Lac Avenue in Rotary Park and connect underneath the 124th Street interchange in Milwaukee. When finished, trail users would be able to walk, jog, or bike from Rotary Park in Menomonee Falls all the way to Dretzka Park in Milwaukee.
Residents Take Sides
“I’m totally against this. I don’t like the way this was pushed through. No one knew about it. No one asked us about this,” said Fond Du Lac Avenue resident Gina Bertucci. “There are many, many, things that need to be done before this goes in.”
The Village Board approved by the Village Board in April 2012 as part of the village’s capital improvements budget. Residents felt village leaders pulled a sleight of hand on the deal, although it was approved in an open meeting. Still, residents said they weren’t notified.
However, other residents along Fond Du Lac Avenue felt the trail was a vast improvement pedestrians walking or biking along the roadway.
“I think it’s a great idea because I’ve always walked along this area anyways. I never feel safe, I watch for cars but traffic is fast on that road. I think it’s awesome,” said Katie Voss, who is deaf resident that lives at the head of the proposed path. “I’m excited, and it will finally be safe to go for a bike ride and a walk. I’ve had many, many, close calls out there. It’s a very busy road and it’s dangerous.”
Terry Duda, who lives in the Villa Vista Condominiums, echoed Voss’ concerns about safety.
“I walk along that road a lot of times to the park. If you’re walking along that road you’re going to get killed,” Duda said. “There’s no shoulder, and it just drops to a ditch. A walkway is needed there.”
The $800,000 price tag of the project was a point of contention for other residents. They accused the village of mixing up its priorities when it came to expenditures.
“What about all those contractors that didn’t get paid for the hotel? Instead of doing this, why don’t you pay those contractors?” resident Rich Kissling asked Village Engineering Director Tom Hoffman. “My son is almost out of a job, because he works for a contractor that did work up there. He’s almost out of business now, and we’re talking about building a bike path? Let’s get the contractors get paid first.”
Hoffman told Kissling the money for the path project comes from a different funding source than money tied to the hotel. After receiving feedback from residents, Hoffman said most design feedback centered on landscaping and the path’s route.
“I’ve received positive and negative feedback,” Hoffman said. “Many people were concerned about the trees we would cut down or keep. Others were concerned about having the trail on the road or off the road.”