Panel halves sidewalk list
JANESVILLE Janesville's sidewalk committee will make a recommendation to the city council at Monday's meeting, but members at a hastily called meeting Thursday removed more than half the segments it had earlier agreed should get sidewalks.
The action had several members predicting the committee will fail in its mission.
The council formed the committee after the council halted a controversial seven-year sidewalk program to build 63 miles of sidewalk to improve safety and close gaps.
Council members asked the committee to report back with recommendations on the 2012 program before continuing work on future years.
The council set a July 9 deadline because it has a contract with a company to install sidewalks. The committee Monday will ask for another two weeks to finish studying the 2012 program.
The goal of the committee is to achieve consensus among all members, but it became apparent Thursday that probably would not happen.
Two committee members—Dan Warden and Scott Bever—requested that streets already approved for sidewalks be removed from further discussion, once again questioning criteria the committee had developed.
Criteria include traffic, population density and proximity to schools and other public places.
"I guess I'm just disappointed," committee and council member Russ Steeber said.
"The integrity of this committee is going to be questioned if every time we make decisions, we go back and reverse ourselves," he said.
Steeber suspects some committee members are getting pressure from others in the community.
He said he was beginning to agree with committee member Tom McDonald that the committee will never reach consensus. Steeber said the committee should send the criteria to the city council and let the council decide what to do with them.
Warden said he was disappointed, too, at the results of the last meeting. He said the committee imposed sidewalks on residents who have not had them for 30 to 40 years with no regard to residents' needs and wants and without considering safety.
He still hoped, though, the group could find common ground.
"We set criteria, we need to stick with it," Steeber said. "We have to start putting our biases and prejudices aside."
Committee chairwoman Carol Tidwell said Bever was questioning criteria the committee had already approved.
Bever said he wants the committee to apply its secondary, subjective criteria, such as property-owner preferences, which Tidwell called the "most problematic one to define."
Residents do not want sidewalks because they have to pay for them and maintain them.
Committee member Bob Yeomans said it is normal for a committee trying to reach consensus to take two steps forward and two steps back.
"We have to step back and bring members along," he said.
But McDonald said the committee took so many steps back Thursday it was almost back to the beginning.
McDonald, a former councilman, told Bever and Warden they will always hear from residents who question their decisions.
"Sometimes, we just have to live with difficult decisions," McDonald said.
The committee has agreed to recommend the council make changes in funding for sidewalks:
-- That the city pay for future maintenance of all sidewalk
-- That people who have no sidewalks help pay for the sidewalks the city orders on the seven-year program.
On some other issues, the committee is sharply divided.
Tidwell, McDonald, Steeber and Ed Madere all agree that Wuthering Hills Drive—what Madere described as a "very important street"—should have sidewalks on both sides of the street for continuity.
Committee member Dave Hyde could not attend Thursday's meeting. He urged the committee via email not to eliminate any sidewalks from the recommendation.
"People will never use sidewalks that do not exist," he said.
Warden and Bever do not agree.
"I feel like we're hitting a brick wall on a lot of these issues," committee member and council member Sam Liebert said. "I'm not really sure how much this community can do or agree on in a consensus style."
The Janesville sidewalk committee will recommend that the city build sidewalks this year on the following streets:
-- Princeton Road from Park View Drive to Stuart Street
-- Stuart Street from Suffolk Drive to Wright Road (defer until area is developed)
-- Wright Road from Palmer Drive to Enterprise Drive
-- Skyview Drive from Beacon Hill Drive to Margate Drive
-- Skyview Drive from Margate Drive to Tudor Drive
-- Wright Road from Enterprise Drive to Racine Street
-- Skyview Drive from Wright Road to Beacon Hill Drive
-- Ruger Avenue from Brakefield Drive to Royal Road
-- Wright Road from Canterbury Lane to Palmer Drive
-- Wright Road from Ruger Avenue to Canterbury Lane
-- Ruger Avenue from Wright Road to Royal Road
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Wilshire Lane to Park View Drive
-- Ruger Avenue from Interstate 90/39 to Greendale Drive
The following streets were removed from the committee's recommendation, either because they are scheduled to be built in another year or because of protests by committee members Scott Bever and Dan Warden.
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Park View Drive to Eastridge Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Skyview Drive to Wilshire Lane
-- Suffolk Drive from Stuart Street to Milwaukee Street
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Enterprise Drive to Racine Street
-- Chelsea Place from Woodhall Drive to Park View Drive
-- Woodhall Drive from Sussex Drive to Wright Road
-- Woodhall Drive from Suffolk Drive to Sussex Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Eastridge Drive to Bristol Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Oldwyck Drive to Skyview Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Ruger Avenue to Hearthstone Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Valencia Drive to Bordeaux Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Bristol Drive to Valencia Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Bordeaux Drive to Milwaukee Street
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Hearthstone Drive to Southwyck Drive
-- Wuthering Hills Drive from Southwyck Drive to Oldwyck Drive
On the agenda
The Janesville City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers on the fourth floor of City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.
Items on the agenda include:
-- A recommendation by staff to raise ambulance fees by 3 percent from $515 to $530. The council is expected to consider higher fees during 2013 budget discussions. The ambulance fee for township residents was increased 3 percent to $740 in January. The average rate in other communities is $675 for residents and $810 for non-residents.