Howards Grove sidewalk project will continue

by Steve Ottman Review Correspondent

HOWARDS GROVE—Although time has run out to finish the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program sidewalk project for Audubon Road, Mill Street and Millersville Avenue, the Village Board voted to continue the project in 2014 once all the temporary limited easements are finished and SMS has completed engineering work.

Fifteen residents of Millersville Avenue petitioned the village to stop the project, which brought up a lengthy discussion among board members.

Public Works Director Ryan Welsing explained to the board that time has run out on the project and the board must review the options to postpone the project, cancel or go ahead with it.

During discussion, Trustee Dale Wuestenhagen stated that this is a whole village project and 15 residents can’t stop it.

“Sidewalks were always in the plans for these streets,” he said.

Trustee Jeff Plass brought up the issue of what the village has already paid in costs and what the village would lose if the project was cancelled.

Trustee Lee Kunze restated that this project has been planned since 2008.

“We made a commitment and we can’t back down now,” he said.

Trustee James Meinnert also felt that the project needed to keep moving forward.

Village President James Scheiber asked Village Clerk/Treasurer Lavonne Athorp to draft a letter to be sent to the 15 residents explaining that the village has committed to continue this project into 2014.

A motion was approved to send the letter to the residents of Millersville Avenue explaining the village’s commitment to finishing the sidewalks and the financial implications to the village if the project was cancelled.

Scheiber also said that the grant money could be lost and more engineering costs could be incurred if any of the currents plans are modified.

Board members gave Welsing permission to spend up to $1,200 for the removal of a tree at South Washington and Alcott. The first bidder didn’t present the require insurance to complete the tree removal. Welsing will contact the next bidder.

A public hearing was held for the rezoning of 128 and 331 N. Wisconsin Dr. from business and commercial to R-1 single family residential.

The Plan Commission made the recommendation to rezone these properties from business to R-1 and also recommended that the village look at the long term future of commercial properties in the village.

Wuestenhagen asked that, if the village approves the changes, the Smart Growth master plan be changed to reflect the rezoning.

The rezoning motion was approved.

Plass and Athorp discussed options for renewing employee benefit insurance. If the village can move the renewal date from Jan. 1 to Dec. 1 to avoid new health care laws, the current plan costs would remain the same.

Trustee Ed Pahl was asked if something could be done to deal with the geese around the retention pond on Millersville Avenue near St. Paul’s church. Scheiber and Welsing will investigate possible solutions.

The board reviewed the work-in-progress report. Several items were updated. The College Avenue yard complaint was removed and the adjustment to the dog fee schedule was included.

A reminder was given to the committee chairman to submit the 2014 budget and five-year plans. So far the clerk/treasurer’s office hasn’t received any budget requests from the committee chairs.

Scheiber reminded the chairpersons that budget requests are due by the second meeting in August.

During the Aug. 6 meeting the board went into closed session regarding the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program sidewalk project authorization for finalizing temporary limited easements (TLE).

Kunze read a letter that he received from SMS regarding changes. Additional lighting will be added to Mill Street through a pilot program with Alliant Energy. LED lighting will be installed on three existing exiting street light polls on Mill Street at no cost to the village.

The village will review the quality of the lighting, following installation.

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